US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Kem Sokha congratulated the Cambodian people on their 65th anniversary of independence from France on Friday.
“The strong bond between the US and Cambodian people benefits both our countries. Every year, more than 170,000 American tourists experience the beauty and history that Cambodia has to offer, while we in the US enjoy the many contributions of our Cambodian-American community to the rich and diverse fabric of our society."
“We share your hope for the development of a free, prosperous, democratic and just society,” said a statement published on the state department website on Wednesday.
In the meantime, Kem Sokha, a former leader of the court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party also wrote a letter congratulating the people on the anniversary and called for national unity.
“I [want to] thank our ancestors with all my gratitude for their sacrifices, devotion and struggles to bring independence to the motherland,” read the letter dated November 8, which was posted on his Facebook page on Thursday."
“I believe [the] protection of national independence can only be possible [through] national unity. As a matter of fact, national unity is impossible if we are divided."
“Taking this great opportunity, I pray that a spirit of real national unity will shine in the heart of all Cambodian people,” the letter added.
Government spokesperson Phay Siphan said Pompeo’s statement was a protocol letter, which is usually shared with countries around the world to congratulate them on their independence and sovereignty.
“I believe that the statement from the US is a close and frank message, which Cambodians need. The Cambodian people want to avoid interference from foreign countries,” Siphan said.
He said that Cambodia and the US never had any quarrels with each other, but there were some issues they did not agree on.
However, Cambodia still cooperates with the US.
“Even though there is [judgement] of Cambodia in the media, Cambodia still regards the US as our partner. Our King Father Norodom Sihanouk went to the US and [they] supported Cambodian Independence,” he said.
Responding to Sokha’s letter calling for unity, Siphan said if he really loved Cambodians, he should not have served foreign interests.
“The opposition party and Kem Sokha have a crisis. He never gave value to the fate of the people. He never accepted election results. What the government and the CPP have done is to make independence important for the nation, not for the party.”