Singapore and Cambodia will expand cooperation especially in new areas of mutual interest such as connectivity, infrastructure development, agri-trade, fintech and digital economy.
Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan is in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, on an official visit on Tuesday and Wednesday (Feb 15-16), at the invitation of Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn.
Dr Balakrishnan will also attend the two-day Asean Foreign Ministers' Retreat starting from Wednesday. The Retreat is the first in a series of meetings that Cambodia will be hosting as Chair of Asean this year, under the theme “ASEAN A.C.T.: Addressing Challenges Together”.
During Dr Balakrishnan's meeting with Mr Prak Sokhonn yesterday (Tue), both men reaffirmed the excellent state of bilateral relations, underpinned by growing trade and investment and people-to-people linkages. Singapore and Cambodia celebrated the 55th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2020.
"Delighted to meet my old friend Prak Sokhonn... today," Dr Balakrishnan said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
"We discussed our excellent bilateral relations, as well as regional and international issues. In this year of post-pandemic recovery, we agreed to deepen our bilateral cooperation in new areas including connectivity, infrastructure, agri-trade, fintech and digital economy," he said.
Dr Balakrishnan also expressed hope that 2022 would be a year of post-pandemic recovery for both countries.
The two leaders discussed the common challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, and commended the mutual support rendered throughout the crisis, including Singapore's contribution of medical supplies and equipment to Cambodia, according to a press statement by Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday (Tue).
They also welcomed the resumption of travel under the Cambodia-Singapore Vaccinated Travel Lane.
Dr Balakrishnan reaffirmed Singapore's commitment to support Cambodia's capacity building and human resource development, including through the upgraded Cambodia-Singapore Cooperation Centre in Phnom Penh.
Dr Balakrishnan also expressed Singapore's support for Cambodia's Chairmanship of Asean this year ( 2022) and Mr Prak Sokhonn's role as the Special Envoy of the Asean Chair on Myanmar.
"Cambodia's Asean Chairmanship theme of "ASEAN ACT: Addressing Challenges Together" is especially apt - ASEAN will overcome challenges together," Dr Balakrishnan said in the Facebook post.
"We both urged the Myanmar military authorities to swiftly and fully implement the Five-Point Consensus, including by facilitating the Special Envoy's visit to Myanmar to meet with all parties concerned," he added.
Dr Balakrishnan noted with regret that there has been no significant progress in implementing the Consensus. Under the Asean "five-point consensus" hammered out in April last year, the special envoy is tasked with meeting and helping to facilitate constructive dialogue among all parties concerned in Myanmar's political crisis. The blueprint also calls for violence to cease, and for humanitarian aid to be facilitated.
Asean member states in October resolved to limit Myanmar to a "non-political representative" at its meetings, pending significant progress on its blueprint. As a result, Myanmar was not represented at several of the grouping's summits last year.
Cambodia said on Tuesday that Myanmar had confirmed its absence from this week’s Asean meeting.
During Tuesday's meeting, Dr Balakrishnan invited Mr Prak Sokhonn to make an official visit to Singapore at a mutually convenient time.
"Fondly recall hosting DPM Sokhonn during his last visit to Singapore in 2018," Dr Balakrishnan said in his Facebook post.
Dr Balakrishnan was to meet Minister of Environment Say Samal later on Tuesday. He will call on Prime Minister Hun Sen and meet Chairman of the National Assembly Commission on Education, Youth, Sports, Religion, Culture and Tourism Hun Many on Wednesday.