PHNOM PENH – Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen asked his Russian counterpart on Tuesday to write off debts amounting US$1.5 billion that Cambodia had owed since 1980s.
Following the bilateral meeting on Tuesday between Hun Sen and Dmitry Medvedev, Eang Sophalleth, spokesman for Hun Sen, said the Russian premier had agreed in principle to write off some 70% of the debts, but further technical details needs to be worked out between the two parties.
Due to prolonged civil war in the country, Cambodia had purchased equipment including military and transportation trucks in the 1980s, leaving Cambodia indebted to the former Soviet Union to the total of some $1.5 billion.
However, after peace was restored in late 1998, Cambodia asked Russia to consider the debts through converting them to other forms, such as loans or diversion to other development projects.
Diplomatic relations between Cambodia and Russia were established in 1956. These relations, however, were cut off from 1975 to 1979 at the time the Khmer Rouge regime ruled Cambodia. The ties were restored soon after.
Since the 1980s, Russia, and its predecessor, the Soviet Union, provided Cambodia with nearly 10,000 scholarships. Some of those scholars have risen to become senior members of the current government, including Eductaion, Youth and Sports Minister Hang Chuon Naron, and Economy and Finance Minister Aun Poin Moniroith.
Russia also left some construction facilities in Cambodia, including a national institute of technology, the Kampuchea-Soviet Friendship Hospital and Federation of Russia Boulevard, which connects the country’s capital to Phnom Penh International Airport.
Medvedev was on a three-day official visit to Cambodia, which started on Saturday, during which he spent two days sightseeing at the Angkor Wat temple complex in Siem Reap province.