"A Personal Reflection on Norodom Sihanouk and Zhou Enlai: An Extraordinary Friendship on the Fringes of the Cold War"

Ambassador Julio A. Jeldres, Monash University
Zhou Enlai welcomes Norodom Sihanouk to Peking, February 1956. Photo from author's private collection.
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Abstract

I was sixteen years old when I first read about Norodom Sihanouk and Cambodia. Jacqueline Kennedy’s visit to Cambodia in November 1967 had been widely reported by the press in my homeland, Chile, where her assassinated husband was greatly admired. Through Jackie Kennedy’s visit to Cambodia, I became interested in Norodom Sihanouk’s fascinating life, totally unaware that, years later, our paths would cross and I would become his private secretary. My Cambodian friends often tell me that it was my destiny. In 1967, I wanted to know more about Cambodia. Since there was no information available, I wrote to the Cambodian mission at the United Nations. I found it unbelievable, but four months later I received a handwritten letter back from Sihanouk himself. That began our friendship, which was first conducted through correspondence...

 

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Norodom Sihanouk, the former King of Cambodia, passed away on Monday, October 15, 2012. Read the BBC Asia obituary at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-19943965.