White House Press Pool: President has “tense” meeting in Cambodia

Subject: Pool Report #14

Pool Report #14


President Obama met Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh in closed press talks ahead of the US ASEAN summit.


The two met in a marble hallway outside their meeting room on a red patterned carpet. POTUS walked towards his host and shook hands, though did not smile, saying  “How are you, good to see you.”


US deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes later agreed with a characterization that the meeting had been “tense.”


He said that POTUS spent most of the meeting on human right issues.


“He began by expressing that his trip to Burma demonstrated the positive benefits that flow from countries moving down the path of political reform and increasing respect for human rights.”


Obama highlighted the need for fair and free elections in Cambodia, and the need for the release of political prisoners. He highlighted the case of a radio broadcaster sentenced to prison for something he said in a broadcast, Rhodes said.


“He said that those types of issues are an impediment to the United States and Cambodia developing a deeper bilateral relationship.”


After the meeting Obama joined other regional leaders for the US ASEAN summit in a nearby room.  He went up on the stage, where the leaders had a formal photograph then had a photo done in what is known as the Asian way, with hands crossed and shaking those of the leader to either side.


Obama stood on the stage between Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dun and Hun Sen.


Hun Sen opened the event with a long speech.  The most interesting part was when he congratulated POTUS on winning rel-election.


The pool was pulled from the room as he continued.



Stephen Collinson

AFP White House Correspondent.