New Delhi, April 22: Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen received the second shot of ‘Made-in-India Covid-19 vaccine on Tuesday before his departure for the ASEAN Summit in Indonesia on April 24. The Premier and his wife were administered their first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine in the first week of March in Phnom Penh and their second dose was scheduled for April 29. However, with the leaders of the ASEAN member states gathering in a special face-to-face summit in Jakarta this weekend, the vaccination was moved ahead of the schedule.

India has supplied millions of Indian Covid-19 vaccines to nearly 90 countries under the highly successful ‘Vaccine Maitri’ initiative. Cambodia too had appreciated India’s international humanitarian gesture after receiving supply of 100,000 AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine doses on March 2.

“A civilizational commitment,” India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had tweeted as made in India vaccines landed in Cambodia while referring to the civilizational and cultural ties between both the countries. Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister PRAK Sokhonn had even requested Jaishankar a further purchase of 5 million Covid-19 vaccine doses even as China continues to assist the country by supplying doses of its Sinopharm vaccine.

Several other Cambodian leaders, including President of National Assembly Heng Samrin, President of Senate Say Chhum, Deputy PM of National Assembly Samdech Heng Samrin and Deputy PM of Foreign Affairs (Prak Sokhonn), had taken the first dose of AstraZeneca’s ‘Made-in-India’ CoviShield vaccine along with their PM last month.

India and Cambodia – a special relationship

Cambodia remains an important member of ASEAN and shares a special relationship with India. New Delhi has also been considering an eastward extension of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway towards Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

Last December, the age-old civilizational and friendly bond between both the nations was further strengthened when Indian Naval Ship INS Kiltan delivered 15 tons of flood relief material containing 3,000 flood relief kits for the flood affected people in Cambodia.

The visit and port call of Indian ship to Sihanoukville port under ‘Mission SAGAR’ is a part of India’s Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) assistance to friendly foreign countries and highlights the importance that India attaches to Cambodia, a close maritime neighbour.

India is also working continuously to reconnect the civilizational and cultural connections between the two countries by undertaking restoration and conservation work at the ancient temple of Lord Shiva at Preah Vihear and Ta Prohm temple.

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–indianarrative/