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Pressure grows for US to cut aid to Cambodia

WASHINGTON – Lawmakers and human rights activists are pushing for a cut in the more than $70 million in annual U.S. aid to Cambodia if its prime minister, Hun Sen, extends his 28-year rule in unfair elections this month.

Whether one of Asia’s longest-serving and most ruthless leaders cares much is another matter.

His political strength has only grown since the last election in 2008 and support from a more generous benefactor, China, has risen. That’s fueling fears that Hun Sen – no stranger to criticism from Western donors – will ignore calls to ensure the upcoming vote is conducted properly.

The Obama administration has deepened ties with nations across Southeast Asia. But relations with Cambodia have worsened in recent months.