US-Cambodian negotiations on Lon Nol debt
On March 1970 General Lon Nol assumed the power in a troublesome Cambodia, moving prince Sihanouk from his position of head of state and putting Cambodia at the side of Washington. Technically it is not possible to say that Lon Nol introduced Cambodia in the War of Vietnam, because the situation was already unsustainable, but his goverment opened widely the doors to the worst Cambodian decades in the 20th century. He is so far in history the only president of a millennial kingdom. The Nixon’s administration, by its part, drop over Cambodia about 2,756,941 tons of bombs, a cost that historians like Kiernan and Taylor estimates in 7 billion US dollars. Besides it, the Lon Nol administration received from Washington a loan of 445 million US dollars for programs of agriculture and development in a country that was being bombarded ! Now US wants its loan back.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in her visit to Cambodia in November about the debt:
‘You could have some repayment, you could have debt for nature, you could have debt for education (…) There are things that the government of Cambodia could do that would satisfy the need to demonstrate some level of accountability but, more importantly, to invest those funds in the needs of the people of Cambodia.’
This week, the deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, Joseph Yun, came to Phnom Penh to resume negotiations on the Lon Nol debt, an issue that the Hun Sen’s administration called a ‘dirty debt‘ used to fund bombs to drop ‘on our heads.’ Foreign Ministry, Hor Namhong requests that US drop the interest rate from 3 percent to 1 percent annually, while allowing 70 percent of the sum to be redirected to development projects. Negotiations between both countries will continue until an agreement there’s an agreement, said the Ministry to the media.