Cambodian PM accuses Michelle Obama of making ‘false promises’

Bangkok : Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen has accused US first lady Michelle Obama of making “false promises” during her recent visit to the country to promote girls’ education, media reported Thursday.

Obama launched the Cambodian component of the US government’s “Let Girls Learn” initiative during a visit to Siem Reap last weekend.

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The global initiative promotes quality education for adolescent girls.

At the launch, Obama encouraged 10 female students to continue studying.

Hun Sen said that Obama’s visit was more about “hopeful rhetoric” than concrete improvements to the country’s education system, Efe news agency reported citing the Phnom Penh Post daily.

“I thought the United States would give scholarships to those students until they complete university, but that’s not (the case). I had strongly hoped (that was the situation), but she just came here to choose people and then (left) it to the ministry of education,” said Hun Sen.

The prime minister spoke a day after Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron requested state university scholarships for the 10 girls, whose education through to the end of secondary school is being funded by the NGO, Room to Read.

A US embassy spokesperson told the Phnom Penh Post that Obama had not promised any financial support and that the Let Girls Learn initiative seeks to break down barriers to education by raising awareness of access inequalities.

Cambodia is among 11 nations included in the first phase of the initiative launched this month by US President Barack Obama and his wife and overseen by the US Peace Corps.