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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.

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.

The US placed an arms embargo on Cambodia in the mid-1970s in response to political conflict in the country but lifted the sales ban in 1992. Further restrictions were placed on Cambodia in the late 1990s and revoked in 2005.

According to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the value of US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) to Cambodia between 1950 and 2020 is USD14.3 million. No major sales have been recorded in the past decade.

In addition, Cambodia has not been a recipient of US Foreign Military Financing, which supports countries' purchases of US equipment through FMS, for many years. Similarly, Cambodia is not a recipient of US International Military Education and Training funding.

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