As Iran sanctions threaten, Iran sees new friend in Cambodia
Leaders from Iran and Cambodia met this month in their most senior exchange to date. Some say it is a sign that Iran sanctions are pushing Tehran to develop new trade partners.
Iran seems to have found a new friend in the unlikeliest of places: Cambodia. Tehran hosted a high-level delegation from the Southeast Asian nation earlier this month to discuss bilateral trade and mutual dislike of American "interference."Skip to next paragraph
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It's the latest sign that the Islamic republic is seeking out new partners – no matter how small – in the face of increased sanctions.
"There is no doubt that Iran’s growing isolation, resulting from the force of UN sanctions, is behind Iran’s push to improve relations with Cambodia and other willing states," says Alon Ben-Meir of the Center for Global Affairs at New York University. "The sanctions against Iran are having a serious effect. For this reason, Iran at this juncture will trade with any country it may find. Cambodia happened to be an easy target because of its energy vulnerability."
"To impose sanctions against Iran is not a solution," Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters Aug. 16 in Phnom Penh, days after his meeting in Tehran with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Mr. Hor advised "negotiations and engagement" instead.
Iran offers trade, technology
The two countries established formal relations in 1992 as Cambodia emerged from civil war, but Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Kanharith says this is the most senior bilateral exchange to date.
"Iran requested to have a diplomatic relation with Cambodia. We don't see any objection to that," says Mr. Khieu, who is also the minister of Information. "Our policy toward Middle Eastern countries is to sell more of our products, mainly agricultural, and try to get more knowledge on oil management."