Cambodia, Burma Sad Over Kim's Death

Phnom Penh wants North Korea to end nuclear arms program while Burma again signals it has no atomic "connections" with Pyongyang.
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Norodom Sihanouk (L) is welcomed by North Korean President and "Great Leader" Kim Il Sung (R), April 22, 1975.
Norodom Sihanouk (L) is welcomed by North Korean President and "Great Leader" Kim Il Sung (R), April 22, 1975.

Cambodia’s former king Norodom Sihanouk, who was once given refuge in North Korea,  has sent condolences to the family of Kim Jong Il, who died of a heart attack at the weekend.

Prince Sisowath Thomico, the retired King’s adviser, said Sihanouk sent the condolence message "to express his sadness" for Kim Jong Il.

Kim's father and North Korea's founder Kim Il Sung had built a palace in the outskirts of Pyongyang for Sihanouk during his exile after being ousted by the Lon Nol-led coup in Cambodia in 1970.

The prince said that Sihanouk had met Kim Jong Il many times "but he does not know his son [Kim Jong Un],” who will be the dynastic successor.

Cambodia, which maintains friendly ties with the nuclear-armed and reclusive North Korea, has named a road in the capital Phnom Penh as Kim Il Sung Blvd.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said the two countries' relations will remain intact despite Kim Jong Il's death.

Ministry of foreign affairs spokesman Kuy Koung told RFA that Cambodia will still be a good friend with North Korea.

But he added that Cambodia wants the new North Korean leader to end its nuclear weapons program "to secure peace in the region."

Early this month, a group of senior North Korean government officials signed a bilateral agreement with Cambodia for cooperation in the agriculture sector.


In Burma, which has recently surprised critics with a series of promising steps towards reform, government adviser Nay Zin Latt said his country was sad over Kim's death.

"Because Burma adopted an independent and non-aligned foreign policy, and will be friendly with all nations, I think it will continue to have relations [with North Korea]," he said.

Charges of nuclear cooperation between the two isolated nations have been a key concern for the international community.

"With regard to nuclear, we have no connection [between North Korea and Burma]," Nay Zin Latt said.

"Our country is in the Third World level. Since it is costly to use nuclear related weapons, and as we have to prioritize the development of our people, there is absolutely no way that we will aim for development of nuclear weapons. The higher authorities have already talked about this," he explained.

"There was a misunderstanding by the international community over the relationship between Myanmar and North Korea lately," he said.

During her landmark visit to Burma earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked the country to cut "illicit ties" with North Korea.

President Thein Sein gave "strong assurances" that Burma would abide by UN resolutions that ban weapons exports from North Korea, Clinton said.

Her aides played down defectors' accounts of nuclear cooperation between the two authoritarian countries, saying the top U.S. concern relates to missile technology.

A UN report released in November 2010 said North Korea was supplying banned nuclear and ballistic equipment to Burma, along with Iran and Syria.

Reported by RFA's Khmer service and Nyan Win Aung of RFA's Burmese service. Translated by Samean Yun and Khin May Zaw. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.

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