New Delhi: The King of Cambodia Norodom Sihamoni will be on a state visit to India from May 29 to 31, as the two nations mark their 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
A state visit to India by the king of Cambodia is taking place after almost six decades, with the last one in 1963. This visit would mark the 70th anniversary of relations between India and Cambodia established in 1952.
"He would be accompanied by a 27-member high-level delegation including the minister of the Royal Palace, President of the Senate, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and other officials," Saurabh Kumar, Secretary (East), MEA said in a media briefing on Friday.
The last visit to Cambodia by the president of India was that of President Shimati Pratiba Patil in 2010. President Rajendra Prasad visited Cambodia in 1959.
The visit of the King of Cambodia will commence in the morning on 30th May 2023, with the Ceremonial Guard of Honour at the Rajpathi Bhavan. He would then visit Raj Ghat to pay floral tributes, the Ministry of External Affairs Secretary (East) informed in the briefing.
MEA Secretary informed that the Cambodian King is scheduled to meet the President, Vice President, and the Prime Minister of India. External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar will also call on him.
President Droupadi Murmu will host a banquet in honour of the King at Rashpathi Bhavan.
Giving a brief background about India's relations with Cambodia, Saurabh Kumar said that India and Cambodia relations have their roots in Hindu and Buddhist cultural influences that emanated from India.
"These historical links continue to provide a strong foundation for our contemporary ties. India established diplomatic relations with Cambodia in 1952," he added.
India was the first democratic country to recognise the new government in Cambodia and reopened its diplomatic mission in 1981. India also played an active and positive role in the finalization of the Paris Peace Accords of 1991 and contributed towards the conduct of the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia or Untak-sponsored elections in 1993.
"This contribution of India is appreciated and remembered in Cambodia even today," he added.
Further, elaborating on the depth of India-Cambodia relations, Saurabh Kumar said, "The ASEAN and Mekong Ganga Corporation Cambodia hosted the first India ASEAN Summit in 2002 when it held the Chair of RCR in 2022. Again, during the Cambodian Chair of RCN, the ASEAN-India relations were elevated to a comprehensive strategic partnership."
"Conservation and restoration of ancient temples in Cambodia by India would be an important part of the conversation. Since 1986, India, through the Archaeological Survey of India, has been engaged in the conservation and restoration of ancient temples in Cambodia. In the late 80s and early 90s, restoration work was carried out on the Angkot Wat. Restoration of Ta Prohm temple has completed two phase phases, while the third phase of work is underway. Last year, restoration work commenced on Prayer Vihar, a World Heritage Site and one of the oldest temples of Lord Shiva," the MEA secretary informed speaking on the restoration works done by India in Cambodia for the ancient temples.
About the defence and demining cooperation with Cambodia, MEA Secretary East said that it includes training courses for the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, training in demining and peacekeeping modules providing demining equipment as well as goodwill visits by Indian Navy and Coast Guard ships and exchange of official delegations.
"India has extended a grant of US dollar 1.5 million for the procurement of demining equipment, and gifted sniffer dogs and offered a US dollar 50 million line of credit for capacity building and other related works for the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.
Customised training courses for more than 80 Cambodian armed personnel will be held this year in different areas. The first army-to-army staff talks between India and Cambodia were conducted in April 2023," he added.
"Lieutenant General Hun Manath, who is the commander of the Royal Cambodian Army, visited India in February this year. India and Cambodia trade is around US dollar 320 million with Indian exports of US dollar 198 million and imports from Cambodia at US dollar 122 million. Cumulative investments from India in Cambodia are estimated at US dollar 115 million primarily in pharmaceuticals, two and three-wheelers and some in the area of mining. Cambodia has been supportive of India in international fora it has joined the International Solar Alliance. A delegation from Cambodia recently participated in the launch of the International Big Cat Alliance," Saurabh Kumar stated.
The visit of His Majesty the King will be important, it will be an opportunity to consolidate and strengthen India-Cambodia relations.
The visit has a strong symbolic value coming as it does on the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. It would also contribute to our efforts to add greater contempt to our trade, economic, defence, culture, and people-to-people ties.
Speaking on Human resource development and capacity building he said, "India is actively assisting Cambodia in capacity building and human resource development through training slots under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC) and Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) scholarships. More than 2200 Cambodian nationals have been imparted training under the ITEC program since 1981. Over 30 ICCR scholarships are available to Cambodian students on an annual basis," he said.
"Lines of credit and lines of credit of around US dollars, 100 million have been extended to Cambodia for projects in infrastructure, water resources, and path transmission lines, amongst others. Cambodia has benefited from 48 quick-impact projects targeted toward local communities in areas such as education, health, sanitation, ecotourism, and infrastructure. 31 of these have been completed and 17 of these projects are under implementation," he stated further.