U.S. military attaché were denied full access to the Cambodian naval base

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The US Embassy in Phnom Penh announced on Friday that its military attaché was denied full access to Cambodia’s largest naval base during an invited visit a few days after Washington expressed concerns about China’s military activities at the base. On June 1, US Secretary of State Wendy Sherman raised questions about China’s military presence at the Ream naval base and asked for clarification on the demolition of US-owned buildings there. Regular visits to Colonel Marcus M. Ferrara, Military Attaché of the Ministry of Defense, he was invited to the base on Friday. The embassy said in a statement: “During the short visit, the Cambodian military denied the defense attachés full access to the naval base. When it was clearly not allowed to enter the naval base properly, Colonel Ferrara ended the visit and demanded the Cambodian military postpone the full visit as soon as possible. The embassy stated that regular and frequent visits to the base by the United States and other foreign military attaches are an important step towards increasing transparency and mutual trust. Chhum Socheat, a spokesperson for the Cambodian Ministry of Defense, could not be reached for an interview. Cambodia confirmed in October that it had dismantled a small facility built by the United States at the base as part of an upgrade plan, but denied that China would be involved in that.. Tea Banh said last week that China will help modernize and expand Ream, but it will not be the only country approved to use these facilities. Cambodia has turned to China as one of its main allies in the southeast Asia, and Washington seeks to slow Beijing’s growing influence in the region.

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