US Envoy Says Rights Discussed at Summit

The top U.S. envoy to Asean said on Wednesday that despite trade and security issues being at the cen­ter of last week’s U.S.-Asean Sum­mit, U.S. President Barack Obama also used the setting to address the region’s human rights problems.

Speaking from Jakarta during a tel­econference with reporters, Nina Hachigian said that the summit held in Rancho Mirage, California, from February 15 to 16—as well as U.S.-Asean relations in general—focused on “growth, stability, [and] rules.”

“I can tell you this, that at every op­portunity in the summit, the pres­ident raised the importance of hu­man rights and rule of law,” Ms. Hachigian said, responding to a question about whether Cam­bo­dia’s invite to the summit indicated an optimistic view of its human rights situation.

“Our key priority is to see Cam­bodia develop into a strong de­moc­racy that respects human rights and supports a thriving civil so­ciety,” she said.

Ms. Hachigan added that “significant challenges” remained.

“We urge the Cambodian government to continue to create a more just society and improve its com­mitment to democracy and hu­man rights,” she said.

In his opening remarks at the sum­mit on February 15, Mr. Oba­ma made passing reference to human rights and its place in U.S.-Asean relations.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan—who last week described Prime Min­ister Hun Sen’s invitation to the summit as “a big, heavy wooden stick hitting the heads of the op­position people”—said that Mr. Obama’s human-rights lecturing had been minimal.

“Before the arrival of the Cam­bodian high delegation, [civil society groups and anti-government protesters] sharpened a knife and passed it to President Obama to chop the Cambodian high delegation,” Mr. Eysan said.

“However, we’ve noticed that no­body at the summit raised negative is­sues over the government’s leadership, led by Samdech Decho Hun Sen,” he said. “Therefore, we consider the Cam­bodian high delegation’s at­tendance at the U.S.-Asean Sum­mit as a great victory.”

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