Hun Sen lauds Korean détente at Pyeongchang

A crowd cheers on the unified Korean women’s hockey team at the Pyeongchang Olympics. Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday lauded the short-lived détente between North and South Korea in a speech yesterday. AFP

Ben Sokhean | The Phnom Penh Post
Publication date 14 February 2018 | 08:05 ICT

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday lauded the short-term “reconciliation” between North and South Korea as they compete under a united flag at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, taking a swipe at countries he claimed were “dissatisfied” with the united front.

“I would like to congratulate the improved relations. Though it is short-lived, it is better than the tension,” he said at a graduation ceremony on Koh Pich. “I got really bored and annoyed with the behaviour of some countries seeing both Koreas get along with each other – they became unhappy and tried to find a way to add more pressure. For this moment, both of them get along with each other, so we should be happy with that.”

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said there was little doubt the main country referred to was the United States, whose president, Donald Trump, has made brash overtures in his dealings with the isolated communist nation, fuelling fears of nuclear war.

Mong Hay added that the premier’s criticism of the US was to “show he has been right when taking a stand against them” – a reference to months of anti-US rhetoric and accusations the superpower had backed regime change in Cambodia.

Paul Chambers, a lecturer at Naresuan University in Thailand, agreed.

“Hun Sen’s criticism of the US regarding the Koreas is just his latest anti-Washington tirade which is part of an overall anti-US bluster that has been intensifying since last year,” he said.

The US Embassy declined to comment yesterday.

San Chey, from accountability NGO ANSA, said while Hun Sen spoke of unity on the Korean Peninsula, his actions did not appear to match his words, given his recent crackdown on his only viable political opposition, whose members have been forced to flee and seek refugee status abroad.

“Cambodia should find a way to achieve political reconciliation in order to build one strong nation,” he said.

Additional reporting by Erin Handley

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