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US envoy to Cambodia meets released opposition leader

The U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia has described the release from house arrest of opposition co-leader Kem Sokha as a step forward and says further moves toward full multiparty democracy will improve relations with the United States.

Ambassador Patrick Murphy spoke after a meeting Monday with the banned Cambodia National Rescue Party's Kem Sokha, who was arrested in September 2017 on a charge of treason for meeting with an American democracy promotion organization. His arrest led to his party being disbanded.

He was freed Sunday by court order after more than two years in detention without trial. He remains charged with some restrictions on his movement.

Cambodia National Rescue Party's President Kem Sokha, center left, shakes hands with U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia W. Patrick Murphy, center right, before a welcoming meeting at his house in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. A Cambodian court has lifted some restrictions on detained opposition leader Kem Sokha, essentially ending his house arrest. (AP PhotoHeng Sinith)

The court granted him freedom a day after the party's other leader, Sam Rainsy, couldn't fulfill his vow to return from exile to Cambodia.

Cambodia National Rescue Party's President Kem Sokha, center left, shakes hands with U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia W. Patrick Murphy, center right, before a welcoming meeting at his house in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. A Cambodian court has lifted some restrictions on detained opposition leader Kem Sokha, essentially ending his house arrest. (AP PhotoHeng Sinith)

U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia W. Patrick Murphy, left, shakes hands with Cambodia National Rescue Party's President Kem Sokha after a welcoming meeting at his house in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. A Cambodian court has lifted some restrictions on detained opposition leader Kem Sokha, essentially ending his house arrest. (AP PhotoHeng Sinith)

Cambodia National Rescue Party's President Kem Sokha, right, talks to the media as U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia W. Patrick Murphy listens after a welcoming meeting at Kem Sokha's house in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. A Cambodian court has lifted some restrictions on detained opposition leader Kem Sokha, essentially ending his house arrest. (AP PhotoHeng Sinith)

Cambodia National Rescue Party's President Kem Sokha, right, talks to the media as U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia W. Patrick Murphy listens after a welcoming meeting at Kem Sokha's house in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. A Cambodian court has lifted some restrictions on detained opposition leader Kem Sokha, essentially ending his house arrest. (AP PhotoHeng Sinith)

U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia W. Patrick Murphy, left, shakes hands with Cambodia National Rescue Party's President Kem Sokha, right, before a welcome meeting in his house in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. A Cambodian court has lifted some restrictions on detained opposition leader Kem Sokha, essentially ending his house arrest. (AP PhotoHeng Sinith)

Cambodia National Rescue Party's President Kem Sokha, front right, shakes hands with U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia W. Patrick Murphy, center, before a welcome meeting at his house in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. A Cambodian court has lifted some restrictions on detained opposition leader Kem Sokha, essentially ending his house arrest. (AP PhotoHeng Sinith)