Cambodia halts search for US Vietnam war missing

Lieutenant General Hun Manet. KT Chor Sokunthea

Lieutenant General Hun Manet. KT Chor Sokunthea

The move was in response to the USA announcing it would stop issuing visas to senior Cambodian Foreign Ministry officials and their families. Government spokesman Phay Siphan confirmed the report.

The embassy was on Friday swearing in tens of new volunteers from the Peace Corps, a program run by the U.S. government to send Americans overseas to help with local projects. Photo from Moscow Kremlin.

Hun Sen said Cambodia's help in finding the remains of more than 40 USA soldiers missing since the Vietnam War depended on Washington addressing the visa ban issue.

That move was a reprisal for Cambodia's refusal to take in Cambodian nationals deported from the USA for committing crimes. As part of a general crackdown on critics ahead of next year's general election, Cambodian authorities recently arrested the head of the main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, and accused the United States of colluding with him to overthrow the government.

Washington also rejected Phnom Penh's claims, criticizing the arrest, and what is reported to be a crackdown on media supportive of opposition parties, including an independent English-language newspaper and radio stations offering U.S. state-run programming from Voice of America and Radio Free Asia. "It's good if you pull out the Peace Corps", Hun Sen said, referring to the United States, in response to a travel warning issues by the USA embassy in Phnom Penh urging citizens to show caution amid "anti-American rhetoric by officials".

Hun Sen said the suspension will be lifted after Cambodia-US ties are restored.

On Thursday, the Cambodian foreign ministry denied the accusations, stating that Phnom Penh was in the process of modifying a 2002 agreement to accept certain people with Cambodian citizenship, under strict guidelines. Hun Sen said Cambodia wanted to renegotiate the repatriation deal which he described as "bad and inhumane". The government said in a statement that it had a video clip and other evidence pointing to a secret plan with foreigners to harm the Kingdom of Cambodia, which it said amounted to treason. Washington announced on Wednesday that it would stop issuing some visas after Cambodia refused to accept Cambodian citizens deported from the United States after being convicted of crimes there.

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