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Pride, exhaustion drive Cambodian leader to tears

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, and said he was too exhausted to take any questions from journalists.

Hun Sen was likely to have faced a grilling from reporters over his attempts during the summit to halt discussions of territorial disputes involving China, a key Cambodian ally. China has insisted that the disputes be resolved bilaterally, not in a group context.

Hun Sen indicated he was overcome by pride and exhaustion 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 and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

The famously tough, canny and usually loquacious leader recited a list of the summit’s accomplishments, big and small, at a final news conference. He 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,” the one-time guerrilla leader then told the crowd of journalists. He expressed apologies for being too tired to answer any questions.

ASEAN summit hosts typically hold final news conferences at which they answer a wide range of questions about the meetings.

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