PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — The prime minister of Cambodia, a country whose uneasy relationship with the United States has involved war, refugee emigration and years of on-off political tension, says he does not want his U.S.-born grandchild to have an American passport.
Hun Sen, whose country was the site of one of the 20th century's most terrible genocides, says he is worried his 14-year-old grandchild could be eligible to fight for the U.S. military.
Hun Sen said he was looking for a way for his grandchild, whom he did not name, to give up his or her U.S. citizenship.
"Now I am finding a way to renounce U.S. citizenship from my grandchild because probably the U.S. will make war with some countries and will require my grandchild to be a U.S soldier," he said in comments posted on Facebook on Thursday.
The grandchild was born when his or her parents were studying in the United States. Hun Sen, 64, and his wife Bun Rany have six children, including one adopted daughter they have disowned. Most if not all of them had some education abroad, including son Hun Manet, who attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
U.S. citizens are not currently compelled to perform military service, although males are required to register for conscription when they turn 18. Hun Sen said he did not want his grandchild to join the U.S. military to fight against other countries.
U.S. citizens must make a formal declaration to renounce their citizenship. It cannot be done by parents or others, nor can any child under 16 because they are not considered mature enough. A minor between 16 and 18 must demonstrate they are doing so willingly and with full understanding of the consequences.
Hun Sen has an uneasy relationship with the United States, whom he feels supports his political opponents. Washington criticizes his record on human rights but tries to keep an even-keeled relationship to offset the strong influence China has in Cambodia.
Hun Sen is a fan of President Donald Trump, and even voiced his support for him before last year's U.S. election, saying that as a businessman, Trump would want peace and could be friends with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, while Hillary Clinton had a record of pushing for war in Syria when she was secretary of state.
He has also expressed his agreement with Trump's disdain for the press.
Just this week, Hun Sen shared his opinion on CNN — a Trump nemesis — which the Cambodian leader complained had broadcast a misleading program about child prostitution in his country.
"CNN television deserved to be cursed by President Donald Trump," he said. "May I send a message to Donald Trump to praise you because your cursing CNN was fair and right, not wrong."
"The American media is too spoiled," he said.