|Thursday, 11 February 2010|
A senior US envoy to South-East Asia wrapped up a brief visit to Cambodia Tuesday saying he had reiterated to Phnom Penh that Washington remained 'very disappointed' with its December expulsion of 20 Uighur asylum-seekers to China.
Below is an article published by M & C News
The US still had no news on the fate of the Uighurs, said Scot Marciel, the US ambassador for ASEAN Affairs, in charge of relations with the 10 members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations. 'We've made it clear a number of times both publicly and privately how concerned and disappointed we were by Cambodia's decision,' he said. 'We had urged the Cambodian government before they deported the people not to go that route because they had not gone through the [UN refugee agency] process to determine whether they had a legitimate claim to asylum.'
Marciel, who is on a five-nation visit as part of US President Barack Obama's strategy of greater engagement with the region, said he hoped the Cambodian government would resume its previously held 'more positive' approach to refugee issues. Referring to China's involvement in Cambodia - it is the country's largest investor and had demanded the return of the Uighur refugees - Marciel said the US did not see the process of increasing Chinese influence in the region as 'a zero-sum game.'
'We would like to see South-East Asia achieve the goals that it has set for itself and the ASEAN movement, which is more integration, political stability, progress towards increased democracy and human rights, and certainly economic prosperity,' Marciel said. 'So we'll continue to support those.'
Referring to the ongoing tensions between Cambodia and Thailand, Marciel said the US - which he described as 'good friends' with both nations - remained concerned and hoped both countries' leaders would work to reduce tensions and find a solution. During his visit Marciel also met with representatives from Cambodia's political opposition and with members of civil society.
His Cambodia trip follows a visit to Vietnam and Laos. He is scheduled to head to Thailand later Tuesday before flying to Indonesia to work on President Obama's visit to that country in March.