Speech at a State Banquet hosted by their Majesties, the King and Queen of Cambodia, 6 November 2002

Your Majesty, Preah Bat Preah Norodom Sihanouk, King of Cambodia
Your Majesty, Norodom Monineath Sihanouk, Queen of Cambodia
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

My delegation, my wife and I feel greatly honoured and privileged this evening to be hosted by Your Majesties the King and Queen of Cambodia. We are humbled by the warm welcome and the hospitality extended to us by Your Majesties, the Government and the People of the Kingdom of Cambodia, as well as the kind remarks of His Majesty about us.

Your Majesties

This morning we had the privilege of visiting the National Museum of Cambodia where we were exposed to the rich history and culture of Cambodia as seen in the artifacts and treasures of the Khmer Kingdom.

The role of His Majesty in Cambodia's independence from Colonial rule in 1953 served as an inspiration to many countries in Asia and Africa in working towards their emancipation.

We remember the pioneering role played by His Majesty the King, in fostering solidarity between the peoples of Africa and Asia at the historic Bandung Conference of 1955. We also recall and acknowledge the historic role played by His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk in the founding of the Non Aligned Movement. Your Majesty's unwavering support and that of the people of Cambodia for the struggle to achieve a just and democratic society in South Africa is indeed highly appreciated.

Like South Africa, Cambodia also experienced a painful period of turbulence and suffering in its recent history under the rule of the Khmer Rouge. However, due to the sterling leadership of Your Majesties and the resilience of the people of Cambodia, peace and democracy returned to Cambodia. We would like to congratulate Your Majesties and the people of Cambodia in choosing the path of peace and democracy.

Your Majesties

Since the establishment of Diplomatic relations between our two countries in 1995, our relations have grown steadily.

Your Majesties, yesterday we had the honour to address the 8th ASEAN Summit on the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). This has provided us with an opportunity to further strengthen the warm friendship that exists between the peoples of Africa and Asia.

We are confident that Cambodia, as Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, will provide a new impetus in steering the organization towards fulfilling its goals and improving the quality of life of all the people of the region. We also hope that we can foster closer working relations between ASEAN and the African Union. As countries of the South both Africa and Asia are faced with similar developmental challenges and we have the opportunity to share our experiences and resources for the mutual benefit of all our people.

On behalf of the government and people of the Republic of South Africa, I wish to request the permission of Your Majesties to propose a toast to the health, long life and happiness of His Majesty Preah Bat Preah Norodom Sihanouk, King of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Her Majesty Norodom Monineath Sihanouk, Queen of the Kingdom of Cambodia as well as the Government and the friendly people of the Kingdom of Cambodia, towards prosperity and success in our joint endeavours and partnerships, and to even closer relations between the Republic of South Africa and the Kingdom of Cambodia.

I thank you.

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