Cambodian PM cuts short India visit, new dates soon


New Delhi : Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen cut short his India visit Monday morning even before his official engagements could begin and returned home after conveying condolences at the death of former prime minister Chandra Shekhar.

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Chandra Shekhar died a few hours before Hun Sen arrived with his senior ministers Sunday on a three-day state visit.

Hun Sen was scheduled to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday and sign several agreements in areas ranging from energy to defence to trade.

Soon after he landed in India, senior officials of the external affairs ministry met Cambodian officials to convey the details of the programme in the light of the demise of the former prime minister and the declaration of a seven-day state mourning.

Later, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee met Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong and explained that the Indian side was ready to go ahead with the official programme except for the ceremonial part, external affairs ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna said.

The Cambodian side, however, expressed their deep condolences and conveyed that as the funeral date coincided with the main engagement day, it would not be proper on their part to continue with the visit, he added.

Before he left, Hun Sen also sent a personal message of condolence to Manmohan Singh conveying "deep regrets" at the passing away of Chandra Shekhar.

Fresh dates for the visit in the near future are under consideration, the spokesperson said.