Relations between Cambodia and the United States hit a low point in August 2017 after Phnom Penh accused Washington of interfering in the country’s domestic affairs.
The US Defence Department has sent a letter to the Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh in a bid to find out why Phnom Penh declined an offer to repair Ream Naval Base, Reuters reported.
“The notification letter of 6 June 2019 has been seen throughout the US government and is fuelling speculation that this sudden change of policy could indicate plans for changes at Ream Naval Base, particularly ones that involve hosting Chinese military assets”, the letter from Joseph Felter, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for South and Southeast Asia, read.
According to the media outlet, the US Defence Department and Army Attaché in Phnom Penh, Michael Stelzig, confirmed that the letter had been delivered on 24 June.
A spokesman for Cambodia’s Defence Ministry, meanwhile, said that the US funds had not been turned down; Phnom Penh rather wanted it spent elsewhere.
“At Ream, perhaps, there will be some changes in the future”, spokesman Chhum Socheat was cited as saying.
While he refused to go into detail, he stressed that “Chinese military assets” would not be involved in those changes.
This is not the first time that Cambodia has dismissed rumours that China wants to build a naval base there. In January 2019, the country’s Prime Minister, Hun…