PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodian strongman Hun Sen was driven to tears Tuesday as he declared how proud his small country was to host the region's main summit meeting.
Hun Sen indicated he was overcome by exhaustion and pride for having hosted the annual meetings of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which were also attended by eight world leaders including President Barack Obama.
The famously tough and canny leader recited a list of the summit's accomplishments, big and small, and then added with moistened eyes that he regretted that Cambodia's late King Norodom Sihanouk, who died Oct. 15 at age 89, had been unable to see his country on the international stage.
"I am sorry that I couldn't hold back my tears," he told a large crowd of journalists. He also apologized for being too exhausted to answer any questions.
Hun Sen was likely to have faced a grilling from journalists over his attempts during the summit to halt discussions of territorial disputes in the South China Sea involving China, a key Cambodian ally. China has insisted that the disputes be resolved bilaterally, not in a group context.
When Hun Sen shows emotion in public, it is often anger, but in recent years the one-time guerrilla fighter has been seen crying over the deaths of some close friends and relatives. There was a national outpouring of grief when Sihanouk, the father of modern Cambodia, died.