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Update: US orders arms embargo on Cambodia

The United States government has instituted an arms embargo on Cambodia in response to what Washington said is Phnom Penh's increasingly close ties with China.

In response, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) to either demolish its US military equipment or put it into storage.

The US' Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) said on 9 December that it has amended export regulations to apply “more restrictive treatment” to sales of military equipment to the Southeast Asian country.

BIS said it had updated the regulations to reflect the State Department's identification of Cambodia as “subject to a United States arms embargo”. It said the restrictions are intended to ensure that US military items are not available to Cambodia's military without prior review by the US government.

BIS added that the decision is a response to “deepening Chinese military influence in Cambodia, which undermines and threatens regional security”. According to BIS, another factor is “growing corruption and human rights abuses by the government of Cambodia”.

“BIS is taking this action to address recent actions by the government of Cambodia that are contrary to the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States,” it said.

Hun Sen said on his official Facebook page on 10 December that he has ordered the RCAF to undertake an urgent review of its military inventories and to “collect all US military weapons and equipment and, if found, store them in the warehouse or demolish [them]”.

He added, “This is a warning message to the Cambodian government in the next generations that if it wants independence in the defence sector, please do not use the US-made weapons.”

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