May 23, 2022
PHNOM PENH – Prime Minister Hun Sen has expressed confidence that his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi will successfully negotiate a solution to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, after Modi met separately with the Russian and Ukrainian presidents to discuss the fighting.
Hun Sen made his views clear at a virtual meeting with Modi on May 18.
At the meeting, Modi told Hun Sen that he had tried to make a contribution to the dialogue in the hopes of solving the Ukraine conflict, as he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss possible pathways to attaining peace.
According to his social media post after the meeting, Hun Sen believes that India can play an appropriate role in the negotiations between the two sides.
“He [Hun Sen] wanted to see a solution to the Russia-Ukraine conflict as soon as possible, as it has impacted the world, especially [in terms of] food security and energy in all countries,” said the post.
Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Asian Vision Institute’s Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies, echoed Hun Sen’s views, saying that the war in Ukraine had caused food and energy security issues, and had also negatively impacted the global economy.
He said India was in a good position to negotiate with Russia on de-escalating the fighting in Ukraine given the historically friendly relations between the two countries.
“India is one of Russia’s main military partners as it has bought a lot of weapons from Russia to strengthen its military. Thus, India is also a key player in [encouraging] Russia to think about its economic crisis as well as [that of] the world as a whole,” he said.
Mengdavid believes that India and Cambodia, the latter as the chair of ASEAN, will continue to find a peaceful solution that is a “win-win situation” for the conflicting parties.
He added that resolution to the war in Ukraine also requires the participation of other major powers, such as China, Europe and the US, who would be able to potentially de-escalate tensions and create a conducive environment for “honest” talks between Ukraine and Russia.
Hun Sen said he considered India a key strategic partner, and that India’s “look-east” policy of Southeast Asian cooperation complemented ASEAN’s policy of building stronger relations with India.
His Facebook post quoted Modi as saying that India would provide a $1 billion loan to Cambodia for purposes of agriculture, environment, health, education, women’s rights and rural and cultural development, as part of their mutual participation in Mekong-Ganga Cooperation, which also comprises Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.
The Indian embassy in Phnom Penh said in a press release on May 19 that both leaders exchanged views on regional and international issues of common interest and concern.
It said that Modi had “warmly congratulated” Cambodia for assuming the role of ASEAN chair for 2022, and reiterated India’s full support of the Kingdom’s chairmanship.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said in a press release that Hun Sen invited Modi to attend the ASEAN-India summit and other related summits in Cambodia in November, which he accepted.
This year marks 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.