China's top advisor arrives for Sihanouk's funeral
PHNOM PENH - Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, arrived here Sunday afternoon to attend the royal cremation ceremony of the late Cambodian former King Norodom Sihanouk, which will be held on Monday.
At the Phnom Penh International Airport, Jia was cordially greeted by Long Visalo, Secretary of State at Cambodia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
During his stay in Cambodia, he will meet with Sihanouk's wife Queen Mother Norodom Monineath, King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen to convey the grief of the 1.3 billion Chinese people to them over the passing-away of the King Father Norodom Sihanouk.
Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the eldest son of Sihanouk and former Prime Minister of Cambodia, told Xinhua Saturday that "the visit of Jia Qinglin is a testament to prove excellent and strong relationship and cooperation between China and Cambodia."
Prince Sisowath Thomico, the spokesman for the Royal Cabinet and former aide to the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk, said Jia ' s visit is a big honor for Cambodia.
"It is the symbol of the friendship and the fraternity that links Cambodia to China; it is a big honor for Cambodia to have a respected leader of the People Republic of China attending the royal funeral," he told Xinhua in an exclusive interview on Saturday.
"Both countries are linked together. I do not believe that anything could break that relationship, and we will further improve cooperation, friendship relations with the People Republic of China," the Prince said.
Besides Jia, a number foreign leaders including French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Laos Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong, Vice President of the Philippines Jejomar C. Binay, and Japan's Prince Akishino will also take part in the cremation ceremony on Monday.
Born on October 31, 1922, Sihanouk ruled Cambodia from 1941 to 1955 and again from 1993 until his voluntary abdication on October 7, 2004 in favor of his son, the current King Norodom Sihamoni.
Sihanouk died naturally and peacefully at the age of 90 in China's capital of Beijing on October 15, last year.