PHNOM PENH ( Cambodia Herald) Cambodian Ambassador to the Philippines Hos Sereythonh is ending his term a year ahead of schedule as bilateral tensions flare over the South China Sea, sources say.
"Normally, ambassadors have three-year terms. But Ambassador Hos Sereythonh has so far served as ambassador for only two years," one source said. "This move is related to the tensions over the South China Sea."
A separate source offered the same assessment.
The sources said that Hos Sereythonh is expected to come back to Cambodia next week. He cannot return this week as work needs to be done for his smooth return, they said.
Local political analysts said the ambassador's early return could be a move by Cambodia to ease tensions between the two Southeast Asian countries over the South China Sea.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Koy Kuong could not be contacted Tuesday.
In a text message to the Cambodia Daily on Monday, however, he indicated that the government was downplaying the return, saying simply that the ambassador’s term had come to an end.
Hos Sereythonh, who began serving as ambassador on 27 July 2010, had been summoned several times to explain why he accused the Philippines of playing "dirty politics" at last month's meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers in Phnom Penh.
According to reports from Manila, the ambassador has not been available for making the clarification.
The Philippines and Vietnam have complained about Chinese violations of their territorial sovereignty in recent months. Two other ASEAN members, Brunei and Malaysia, also have territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.