The United States has refused a request by Cambodia to write off $317 million in debt, but has instead agreed to reschedule the impoverished country’s loan repayments. The U.S. also declined to convert the debt into development aid but would work out a plan for Cambodia to pay back the loans, which date back to the 1970s, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Scot Marciel said. “The U.S. position is that Cambodia has recognized its debt,” Marciel told reporters during a visit to Phnom Penh. “We think Cambodia should begin the payment, which the Cambodian government has not been willing to do.” The loans were given to the government of Lon Nol after it came to power in a 1970 coup backed by the U.S.. The loans were intended to develop the country’s agriculture sector and boost commodities exports. Lon Nol was toppled five years later when the ultra Maoist Khmer Rouge staged its “killing fields” 1975-1979 revolution. (Reuters)

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