India and Cambodia expanding bilateral relations on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit

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In the ever-evolving geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific region, India’s progressing relationship with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) seems vital. This year marks the 30th year of ASEAN-India relations and has been designated the “ASEAN–India friendship year” by the Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi while India seeks to advance its cooperation with significant Southeast Asian countries.

Several recent developments have directed this course. The strategic military and naval engagements with Indonesia and Vietnam accompanied by preparations for the sale of the BrahMos cruise missile to the Philippines have signaled India’s aim to strengthen its strategic cooperation with these nations.

From 11-13 November 2022, the Vice-President of India, Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar, accompanied by External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar, led the Indian delegation to Cambodia on a three-day visit to attend the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit and the 17th East Asia Summit. On the sidelines of the summit, India prepared to expand its relations with Cambodia as they celebrate the 70th anniversary of their bilateral relations this year.

With this focus, the Indian Vice President met with Prime Minister Hun Sen and discussed different issues pertaining to the advancement of bilateral relations. The mine clearance cooperation with the Indian government was particularly emphasized during this visit. India, in June 2022, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on funding a mine-free village project in Koh Kong province that intends to help 8,000 people inhabiting this region. Victim assistance is also being extended by providing prosthetic limbs to those affected by mine accidents. In this regard, two health centers that fall under the “Jaipur Foot” prosthetics program are being considered to be established in the near future.

Incidentally, four MoUs were inked during this visit. The first is in the field of health and medicine. The second MoU was signed for the reintroduction of tigers in Cambodia, which have become extinct due to poaching and habitat loss. In this regard, there will be capacity building for a tiger ecosystem followed by the handover of tigers. The third MoU was signed between the Indian Institute of Technology, Jodhpur, and the Institute of Technology, Cambodia to increase collaboration in the field of education and digital conservation of cultural heritage. The last MoU was signed on the Financing Agreement on Conservation and Preservation of Ramayana-based murals in Wat Raja Bo Pagoda in Siem Reap, Cambodia.


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