Cambodia’s Prince Norodom Ranariddh, half-brother of the country’s King Norodom Sihamoni, will visit North Korea in late June or early July, the prince announced on Thursday to journalists at the country’s Royal Palace.
Norodom, who is also head of Cambodia’s royalist FUNCINPEC political party, said the trip would be a private one, intended to encourage North Korea to slow its development of nuclear weapons and de-escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
“I will take a private visit to North Korea to ask the country’s leader to stop their plan of starting a nuclear war because we understand that when a pair of elephants are fighting, they will kill the ants on the ground,” Norodom told the press.
Alluding to Tuesday’s election of Moon Jae-in as President of South Korea, Norodom, who served as Prime Minister of Cambodia in the 1990s, said he hoped his visit could lead to talks between the two Koreas.
“We welcome a negotiation plan between the two countries, and I have heard that the newly elected president of South Korea will visit North Korea for negotiations to prevent the war,” he added.
A Cambodian government spokesperson told local media that while the trip was a private one and not an official diplomatic visit, he hoped that the historic ties between the two countries could convince North Korea to cool tensions.
“Even if this is a personal visit, it will respond to the government’s policy because our government does not want to see nuclear war in the region,” Phay Siphan said.
Norodom’s father, the late longtime ruler of Cambodia King Norodom Sihanouk, had a long and well-known friendship with North Korea’s founding President, Kim Il Sung.
The two grew close due to their countries’ support for the international Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), and Kim Il Sung went so far as to build a countryside retreat for his friend near Mount Taesong, North Korea, where Sihanouk reportedly spent several months a year.
Norodom Sihanouk died in 2012, but Prince Ranariddh told press he hoped these ties would encourage DPRK authorities to take his advice.
“I hope that the leaders of North Korea will listen to me because my father had a long relationship with their former leaders,” he said.
And while relations between Phnom Pehn and Pyongyang are not as close as they once were, the two countries still enjoy relatively close relations. North Korea
North Korea spent $10 million on the Grand Panorama Museum in the Cambodian capital, which opened in 2015 – the same year that Cambodia agreed to ban “The Interview”, a film which portrayed the assassination of Kim Jong Un, reportedly on Pyongyang’s request.
North Korea also intervened in a dispute over human rights between Cambodia and a local United Nations human rights office in November last year.
Ties have been strained, however, by North Korea’s nuclear development. In March last year, Cambodia reaffirmed its opposition to North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests, strengthening ties with Seoul and pledging to fully implement international sanctions against the DPRK.
Recently the Cambodian Prince has reached out to build ties with North Korean officials, however. Last month he met with former DPRK Ambassador to Vietnam and foreign ministry official Ma Chol Su, where the two discussed the Prince’s upcoming trip to the DPRK and agreed to build ties between North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party and FUNCINPEC.
Featured image: Wikimedia Commons
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