At the invitation of his Cambodian counterpart, H.E. Dr. Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly, H.E. Mr. Om Birla, Speaker of Lok Sabha accompanied by an Indian delegation visited Cambodia from 21th to 24th April 2022 to boost cooperation between the legislative bodies of the two countries.
Other members of the delegation include Mr. Ravneet Singh, Member of Parliament (MP) (Lok Sabha – Lower House), and Smt. Saroj Pandey, MP (Rajya Sabha – Upper House), Mrs. Locket Chatterjee, MP (Lok Sabha), Mrs. Sarmistha Kumari Sethi, MP (Lok Sabha), Dr. Santanu Sen, MP (Rajya Sabha), and Shri Utpal Kumar Singh, Secretary-General, Lok Sabha. This was the first-ever visit by the Speaker of Lok Sabha to Cambodia and the first high-level visit from India to Cambodia post-Covid-19 pandemic.
On 22nd April 2022, the Hon’ble Speaker had a Royal Audience with His Majesty The King of Cambodia and held meetings with his Cambodian counterpart, H.E. Mr. Heng Samrin, President, National Assembly and President of Senate, H.E. Mr. Say Chhum. Hon’ble Speaker and the Indian delegation also had fruitful interactions with Hon’ble Members of the Cambodia-India Parliamentary Friendship Group, as well as some other Parliamentarians of Cambodia.
Discussions centered on Parliamentary exchanges, trade & commerce, education, culture, capacity building, development cooperation & restoration of temples, etc. Birla highlighted India’s successful fight against Covid19 and the status of vaccinations in India. Among issues discussed include possible sharing of experiences in aspects of Parliamentary Procedures and Practices.
During the meeting, it was also proposed that a joint India-Cambodia joint Parliamentary Friendship group should be set up as early as possible and the group should hold regular meetings. Earlier in the day, the Hon’ble speaker also visited Independence Monument and late King Norodom Sihanouk Memorial in Phnom Penh and paid tributes by laying wreaths at the respective monuments.
The Ambassador of India Dr. Devyani Khobragade hosted a lunch in honor of the Hon’ble speaker and other members of the Indian delegation, where members of the India-Cambodia Parliamentary Friendship Group in the National Assembly and Senate, prominent personalities from the fields of business, art, culture, members of the Indian community, etc., were present.
In the evening, H.E. Dr. Heng Samrin hosted a Banquet in honor of the Hon’ble Speaker of Lok Sabha and the visiting Indian delegation. Speaking on the occasion, the Hon’ble Speaker thanked the Presidents of the National Assembly and Senate for the warm and gracious hospitality extended to his delegation. Both Presiding Officers expressed satisfaction with the close relationship, strong bonds of friendship, and mutually beneficial cooperation in many areas between India and Cambodia over the last seven decades.
They reaffirmed their mutual commitment to enhance engagements at every level, and forge closer people-to-people relations to deepen understanding and friendship between the two countries. the hon’ble speaker recalled that the two countries enjoyed special relations sharing civilizational ties in the cultural, religious, spiritual, and other areas. He said that these ties were further strengthened in the present times by a convergence of common values and aspirations.
Shri Birla also dwelt at length on the various development cooperation projects underway in Cambodia with Indian assistance covering education, infrastructure development, restoration of temples and capacity building, etc. In the area of Parliamentary affairs, he offered to provide support for enabling sharing of experience based on seven decades of practice in Indian Parliamentary democracy.
There is already ongoing cooperation between the Rajya Sabha Secretariat and the Cambodian Senate Secretariat in pursuance of an MoU signed between the two sides in September 2016 in the area of capacity building and exchange of visits. More than 200 officials of the Senate benefited from Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) training courses, including customized courses.
On 23rd April 2022, the Hon’ble Speaker of Lok Sabha and members of the Indian delegation visited Siem Reap, the cultural capital of Cambodia. In Siem Reap, they visited the world-renowned Angkor Wat temple (Restored by India from 1986 to 1993) and Ta Prohm Temple (India has completed 2 phases of restoration and the third phase, which started in 2016 is expected to complete in 2026). In Siem Reap, H.E. Mr. Tea Sieha, Governor of Siem Reap Province hosted a dinner in honor of the hon’ble Speaker and the Indian delegation.
The visit took place as part of celebrations to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 2022. The Year 2022 has also been designated as the ASEAN-India Friendship year. To commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the establishment of the India-ASEAN relationship in 2022, the Chairman, Rajya Sabha, and Speaker, Lok Sabha jointly invited H.E. Mr. Heng Samrin, President, ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly and President of the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia accompanied by a delegation of the Presiding Officers of the ASEAN Parliaments to visit India from 10th to 15th August 2022.
Such high-level visits to commemorate the special events are expected to enhance exchanges between the two Parliaments and give further impetus to the bilateral relations in this area.
Source: India in Cambodia (Embassy of India, Phnom Penh)