In addition to the prepared text, Samdech Techo gave his adlib comments with the following unofficial selection and translation by CNV:
[…] I should emphasize this a bit. In the UN guided Millennium Development Goals, there were only eight goals. Cambodia has set then mines action as the ninth goal. As for the Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations has set only 17 goals, but Cambodia has added mines action making it goal 18th, and fortunately the UNDP, our partners, as well as the Secretary-General of the United Nations recognized the importance of the added goal.
In a separate meeting between the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and I, a few days ago, I asked him to consider, by the mid-term mandate for sustainable development, including issues related to landmines. I feel that many rich countries have had no worries about mines. Therefore, with the issue of sustainable development, or the previous development goals, from the millennium to the sustainable development goals, there included nothing about demining and removing unexploded ordnance. However, in reality, the issue of mines has become a problem. The Secretary-General of the United Nations has accepted this proposal for consideration with the member countries of the United Nations.
At this point I should say that I was very surprised when after the meeting between me and the United Nations, there appeared to be news that the Secretary-General of the United Nations asked me to do this/that, while there was nothing we talked about Cambodia’s internal affairs. Antonio Guterres and I, to be honest, have been good partners since the 1980s. He was the Prime Minister of Portugal and I am the Prime Minister of Cambodia, so we know each other, not for a day or two. Whenever we meet up, he never talks about Cambodia’s internal affairs. I could not imagine that someone that I do not know or which UN officials, who go to the press with so and so news. Or, there are certain groups of people that constantly cause (fake information?). The matters that I discussed with the UN Secretary General were relating to landmines, cooperation on issue of sending UN peacekeepers and on the Khmer Rouge trial. These are what we discussed and I knew […]
Outside the meeting, people said that the Secretary-General of the United Nations has asked me to do this/that and the matter has even reached to the US President Joe Biden. I will get to that in the later part. What I have said with the UN Secretary-General is the inclusion of landmines action into the UN Development Plan, which was formerly called the Millennium Development Goals. Now they called it sustainable development goal, which consists of only 17 goals and we set the 18th goal (to include demining). Our partners all support it as a unique story of Cambodia. But the current mine problem is not a separate issue, as it has now happened even in Ukraine, where there needs to be decades of efforts to remove unexploded ordnance, just you wait and see. It is not a small matter. There might be large ammunitions that are becoming unexploded ordnance […]
On these points I would like to talk a little bit. I thank our development partners who have contributed funds and materials for demining in Cambodia. During the meeting that took place in Phnom Penh last week at the ASEAN Summit and related Summits, I never forgot to talk with all partners about helping Cambodia to clear landmines and unexploded ordnance. I do not forget to mention this issue with every character that I meet. This time I managed to receive and meet every guest compared to the ASEAN Summit and related Summits we hosted in 2012, when I met some of them and did not have the chance to for some. This time I had a way to solve the problem […]
Of course, we need help from friends, but it is in our duty to work hard to set goals for the flow of funds to support demining activities. In that, I would like to thank Her Majesty Hluang Mae (Queen Mother), and all the philanthropists, who have contributed in the past, which has so far accumulated to more than 10 million US dollars, and we have had more than 8 million dollars left. In relation to mines clearance, I continue to call on the philanthropists with ability to help because helping Cambodia is helping themselves. As for the national budget, I think there is a solution to increase the size of the budget for investment in demining, as we have been doing in releasing about US$ 40 million a month to help relieve hardships of the people suffered from Covid-19 pandemic. I feel that when Covid-19 is relieved, there will be a reduction in the cost of sustaining the lives of the affected people, so that money can flow for mine action […]
I will continue to work with HE Aun Porn Moniroth to ensure that our budget is shifted to every project, and every goal we set out. We need to do this to ensure that by 2025 there will be no more landmines. We will prepare it in such a way that we did when there was a shortage crisis of electricity in 2018. We immediately pulled out US$ 400 million, and bought a 200-megawatt generator from Germany, and a 200-megawatt generator from Finland. We placed them nearby Phnom Penh to supply immediately when there is a shortage. Next, we have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Sihanoukville and more investments in roads in Siem Reap. Therefore, we can also invest annually on demining actions.
Should there be without commitment and determination, there would not be an ability for us to clear mines from the Cambodian territory. The only way to get there is to call on friends’ contribution from outside, to call on local philanthropists in the country, willing to participate in demining in Cambodia, and to use our national budget to solve this problem. If we can end the mine problem in Cambodia, it is one thing, it is our merit since this country has suffered too much. The war is over, but mine is not over. I raised these issues with the President of the United States too. Unfortunately, there came this news about “releasing the bald head Apsara,” for whom I have not heard Joe Biden talked to me about.
Suddenly, it has gone on in the news. I do not seem to understand. Who released the information? And who wrote that information? while the US president does not talk to me about that. We talked about opening up democracy for later elections, but there was no talk about this/that character in person at all. I did not hear it. When some asked me on that during the press conference, I was dazed that they said the President of the United States raised so and so matters to me. I did not hear it. That was why I said “it would be better to ask the United States.” It was all because I did not know any of such talk.
To retract on the matter, all the characters whom I met then also raised (mines issue). Let me confirm to the provincial governors along the border, as well as the army, the Ministry of National Defense, the Commander-in-Chief, the Ministry of Interior, and the General Commissioner of the National Police, that with HE Prayuth Chan-Ocha, the Thai Prime Minister, we have agreed to clear mines where there are mines, regardless whether the border issue has been resolved. In this regard, HE Var Kimhong must continue to work with Samdech Pichey Sena Tea Banh, who will be going to have this border committee meeting soon. Previously, we have proposed to the Thai side that we should clear mines first and leave the border issue to resolve later […] but the Thai side did not respond. This time, His Excellency Prayuth Chan-Ocha, Prime Minister of Thailand, agreed that the (Thai-Cambodian border) of more than 40 square kilometers is under suspicion of landmines. So, we do not need to wait for demarcation before demining. Let us clear the mines and resolve where the border is later.
As for opening of the border pass, there is no need to wait for the border demarcation. Let us open the border pass first. The opening of the border pass has nothing to do with demarcation. That work must be done so that (there are communication points) in all border areas. With Vietnam, we have done it already. With Laos, we also have done it. What remains to be done is with Thailand. According to HE Prayuth Chan-Ocha, there are about 40 square kilometers left. We have to work with the Thai side on this effort, without having to wait for (the demarcation) […] the border is not yet clear where it is, but we do not need to determine whether soil under mines is on Thai side or on our land. It is known to both sides that the area is not yet decided on whose side it is. But there are mines. On this matter, let’s cooperate. Let say Thai side has cleared mines up to certain point. Thais might clear mines in their land, and might also work on our land too. As for us, we could remove mines on our land and/or move on Thai land too. We might move on each other’s land a bit and there should not be a problem. Most importantly, we can ensure that our people are happy.
I would like to take this opportunity to clarify a bit. This year we mark the 30th anniversary of demining and unexploded ordnance (UXO) so that people better understand where, when and how mine action begins to avoid (misinterpretation). There seemed to have several historians these days whose research have apparently misguided even the one who have personally participated in the events. I would like to confirm that the initiation related to demining was made in a joint decision between SNC (Supreme National Council) and UNTAC. The meeting on mines held at the Khemarin palace under the presidency of the late His Majesty the King Father and the President of the UNTAC – Yasushi Akashi. That was the starting point […] this is a decision-making point. That is the Royal consciousness of the support of our former King Father, who has taken care of this work together with the support of all the members of the Supreme National Council. That was the beginning of the founding of CMAC, which until now has been in action for 30 years […] we must see that 30 years is not a joke. It has been a long time, and we still have not finished the job.
War broke out in Cambodia from 1970 to 1975, and it was followed by the genocidal regime of Pol Pot. It can be said that the war lasted only 18 years, if we consider that the war started in 1970 and ended in late 1998. But it has taken us 30 years to clear landmines and unexploded ordnance, (and we have not yet finished doing the job). It is in this regard that it is good not to have a war at all. Where there is war, each side finds a way to defeat each other, finds a way to kill each other. Although there is a convention banning the use of landmines, anti-personnel mines are still sometimes used and efforts are made to transform ammunitions to make this/that bomb in order to to kill a lot of people. This is where we should pay attention.
I reiterate that those who comment on some of the remarks of the President of the United States respect the ethics of the debated leaders. I have in my pocket this whole log of conversations with each other. I do not imagine that this (spread of information that I do not know how it exists) has happened. I cannot understand […] leaders meeting (always) has their minutes, and in this note taking, when Joe Biden speaks in English, they write in English. When I speak in Khmer, we write in Khmer. I have not heard Joe Biden suggested to me about so and so. I did not hear it. I do not know (and how can I make comments) based on what (I do not hear). Journalists kept asking me, “Please go and ask the Americans themselves,” I said. I truly do not know.
(In conversation with US leader) I did thank the United States. We need to acknowledge one fact. The United States is the leading country to bring artifacts back to the (Cambodian) motherland. We have to acknowledge that. The United States is very active. Although the American people own the property, the US government, the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, and the US State Department in Washington are working to bring the artifacts back. “There maybe more,” said President Joe Biden. He will work hard to do this. He made a few points […] I also thank him. It is not a habit to break down what to say about the minutes of conversations between leaders. But some things do not exist at all and they said about coming to punish at home. It does not seem understandable. He came as a guest of the ASEAN Summit and partners. I received him and we walked together to the meeting place, and at night we ate dinner together. There was nothing to say at that time.
There is one thing. It is not a secret […] Joe Biden has been paying close attention to the art performance, and he then asked me, “how long have these clothes been around?” I also told him, “We (copied) this fashion from the inscriptions found in the temples. “That means his dress has been around for a thousand years.” Jokingly, I said, “This Apsara statue is at Angkor Wat, which has both Apsara wearing long skirts and Apsara wearing short skirts.” I also said, “There was a time when a mother told her daughter not to wear shorts. The daughter replied that her mother was not up to date. “A 1,000 years ago, they were already wearing shorts.” This makes an impression on him […]
I am only clarifying this to confirm to those who released the information or those who received the information that I was the (meeting) negotiator, but I did not hear (that partner raised the story that you publish). As of now, I still do not know (where did it come from?). This morning I called Prak Sokhonn, Sok Chenda Sophea, Srey Thamrong and Ieth Sophea, and received a complete set of documents and a complete transcript of the conversation. It is not a good habit to open up negotiations between leaders and speak up. In addition, it is said that the Secretary-General of the United Nations gives such and such advices. I went to the United Nations in September and met with him without talking a word about Cambodia’s internal affairs. Arriving in Phnom Penh, there is no mention of Cambodia in our discussion too.
(It is a meeting within the framework of) ASEAN-UN Cooperation. However, Cambodia and the United Nations have focused on, firstly, demining cooperation because Cambodia must join with the United Nations in sending troops abroad; secondly, the remaining works of the hybrid courts are transferred to the Cambodian courts; and thirdly, […] the annual meeting between UN agencies in Phnom Penh and the Prime Minister. Due to Covid-19, such meeting could not be held. Now that Covid-19 is under control, we can reconvene the annual meeting of the United Nations in Phnom Penh with the Prime Minister. Previously, the UN agency in Phnom Penh met with the Prime Minister once a year so that we could discuss what to do and how to rectify it together. That’s all.
[…] I do not know where they got that word from. I think it (probably) would not be excessive if we asked for verification of the minutes from both sides. I raised the issue (regarding Cambodians in the United States). Samdech Krala Hom knows the story of Cambodian citizens who are imprisoned in the United States and sent to Cambodia. I suggested that […] we implement the 2002 Memorandum of Understanding, and interviews can be done online or in person. What I ask for is not to send in foreigners […] last time, suddenly two people went to Laos. Related to the Cambodian people who committed crimes in the United States, where should the United States be evicted? Deported to Cambodia. We have an agreement with the United States for 20 years. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the so-called MOU to repatriate Cambodians.
Some committed suicide and some died […] some were born in the United States. Imprisoned in the United States, and they were sent to Cambodia. Their parents are in America. Wives and children are in America. At one point we suggested that amendments should be considered to address humanitarian issues. But the United States, looking at the suggestion of amendment, considered us a non-cooperative country and has imposed visa bans on our Foreign Affairs officials. When I raised the issue with the US President, and he said, “I do not get a hold of this. Who gets hold of it?” One of his officials mentioned the matter (in writing) to him. He reads it and he said that he now understands […] and will continue to solve that problem. Well, there is what we were talking about. As in the case of the bald head Apsara must be released, or this or that person must be released, I do not know, because I do not hear Joe Biden talk about it […]
About the ASEAN Summit (and related Summits) in Phnom Penh […] it is the pride of the Cambodian people. We are now having this meeting of AIPA in Phnom Penh. Tomorrow, I preside over the meeting of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting and ADMM Plus in Siem Reap. As I said yesterday, if nothing changes, a meeting will take place between the Chinese and US defense ministers. Thus, the land of Angkor becomes a place of constructive dialogue and a good place for meetings.
Many defense ministers will be there, from Australia, Japan, South Korea and others. We are the host. Soon I got on the helicopter and fly to Siem Reap. That is why I brought a helicopter here […] actually for this month of year, we should have cool weather. Instead, we are still having rain. That is climate change […] I do not know how we will fly. Maybe we will take it to a high altitude a bit. Sometimes the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology does not allow flying for travel Cross the Tonle Sap too.
That’s all I have to say and I apologize to my American friends that I owe (this explanation to my people and to clear the air). If not specified, they still use what it is not clear. It is not in the negotiation log. It is unknown at this time who had made this baseless information and get it out. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs always announces in its press releases what has been said. For this news, however, I did not hear (the dialogue partners say) and am unable to identify where suddenly it came out as a rumor. I do not want to obscure the success that Cambodia has achieved during its hosting of the ASEAN Summit (and related summits), in which more than 100 documents can be issued. It is not a laughing a matter to deal with international issues […]./.