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Cambodia to further heighten ties with China despite Sihanouk’s death: DPM

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) — The long-standing friendship between Cambodia and China will be strengthened and broadened for good even though Cambodian King-Father Norodom Sihanouk had passed away, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said Thursday.

He made the remarks after a one-hour meeting here with Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo.

“Cambodia sincerely thanked China for taking care of King- Father Norodom Sihanouk’s heath until his death on Monday in Beijing,” he told reporters.

Dai Bingguo said the departure of the King-Father was not only the loss for Cambodian people, but also the grief for Chinese people because the King-Father was Cambodia’s top leader and a close friend of China.

Dai Bingguo escorted Sihanouk’s body to Cambodia from Beijing on Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, Dai Bingguo also paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Hun Sen. During the meeting, the premier expressed profound and heartfelt gratitude to all Chinese leaders for taking great care of the King-Father’s health until his death.

The most revered ex-King Norodom Sihanouk died of illness at the age of 90 in Beijing on Monday and his body was transported to Phnom Penh by Air China jumbo jet on Wednesday afternoon. Hundreds of thousands of mourners tearfully welcomed the return of his body.

The country announced a week of mourning from Oct. 17-23, and the body of the King-Father will be lying in state for at least three months at the Royal Palace before it is cremated.

Born on Oct. 31, 1922, Sihanouk reigned the country from 1941 to 1955 and again from 1993 until his voluntary abdication on Oct. 7, 2004 in favor of his son, the current King Norodom Sihamoni.

He was the king who led the country to gain independence from France in 1953. He had gone through decades of political and social turmoil in Cambodia, besides long periods of exile overseas.

He suffered from various forms of cancer, diabetes and hypertension and had been treated by Chinese doctors in Beijing for years before his death.

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