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Philippine gov’t says Cambodian envoy in Manila recalled

MANILA, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) — The Cambodian Foreign Ministry has recalled its top diplomat to the Philippines, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said Friday, more than a week after Manila protested the envoy’s scathing criticisms of the Aquino administration’s position on the South China Sea territorial disputes.

Ambassador Hos Sereythonh’s recall was relayed to the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs through a note verbale sent by the Cambodian Foreign Ministry via its embassy in Manila early this week, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said.

Hos will leave Manila on Aug. 17, Del Rosario said.

Del Rosario said the note verbale or diplomatic note states that Hos “was being replaced,” but offers no explanation on why he is being removed from his post.

Del Rosario believes that Hos’ recall will not have a negative impact on Manila’s bilateral ties with Cambodia.

The recalled Cambodian envoy’s harsh criticisms against the Philippines are the latest twist in the brewing animosity between the two neighbors, which are both members of the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Other countries that make up the ASEAN are Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Laos and Myanmar.

“I don’t think it affects the bilateral relations at all,” Del Rosario told reporters on the sidelines of the commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the ASEAN his department.

“We’re looking forward to healthy bilateral relations with Cambodia,” he said.

In a press briefing, Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said the Cambodian Foreign Ministry sent separate notes verbale to the Philippine Embassy in Phnom Penh last Friday and to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila early this week.

The ministry, he said, did not elaborate on its reason for cutting short the Cambodian envoy’s tour of duty, Hernandez said.

“Cambodia is an ASEAN member and a friend. We hope the Cambodian ambassador will (still) help reinforce the friendship that exists between our two countries,” he added.

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