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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Cambodia supports six-party talks on Korean Peninsula nuclear issue

The Cambodian government has said that it supports the six-party talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, the Koh Santhephea Daily reported on Tuesday.

The report said Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong had congratulated Choe Han Chun, the out-going ambassador of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to Cambodia, on the progress achieved at the talks and expressed his support.

Hor, also minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, said Cambodia would always support reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula.

The latest round of the six-party talks, involving the United States, DPRK, China, Russia, South Korea and Japan, ended in Beijing on Feb. 13 with the signing of a joint document that represents the first step toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

According to the document, the DPRK will shut down and seal the Yongbyon nuclear facility, including the reprocessing facility, and invite the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) back to the country to monitor and verify its actions.

In return, the DPRK will receive emergency energy assistance of 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil, starting within 60 days.

In exchange for irreversibly disabling the nuclear facility and ending all nuclear programs, the DPRK will eventually receive another 950,000 tons of oil, according to the agreement.

Source: Xinhua Read more!

Corruption allegations in Cambodia's Khmer Rouge tribunal promptUN audit

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: A U.N. agency said it has audited the finances of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge genocide tribunal, as local and foreign officials involved in the judicial process were divided Wednesday over recent corruption allegations against it.

The announcement by the United Nations Development Program, which is managing some of the tribunal's funds, added weight to allegations of corruption made last week by a New York-based legal monitoring organization. The findings of the audit have not yet been announced.

The Open Society Justice Initiative alleged in a statement that Cambodian judges and other court personnel had kicked back some of their wages to Cambodian government officials in exchange for their positions on the court.

The UNDP said in a statement that its decision to conduct an internal audit action had been prompted by "various reports" late last year that "raised concerns about transparency of hiring procedures" of the tribunal.

"UNDP takes such matters very seriously," it said, adding that findings of the audit — conducted from Jan. 29 to Feb. 2 — are being prepared. It did not say if or when they would be released.
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"Appropriate action will be taken to respond to the internal audit recommendations," it said.
Corruption permeates the society and administration of Cambodia, one of Asia's poorest countries.

The tribunal was created by a 2003 agreement between Cambodia and the U.N. after years of difficult negotiations to bring those behind the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime to justice.

The radical policies of the now-defunct communist group, which held power in 1975-79, led to the deaths of about 1.7 million people from execution, overwork, disease and malnutrition.

Cambodian officials at the tribunal's administrative office have strongly denied the OSJI's accusations. The tribunal is being jointly run by Cambodian and U.N.-appointed foreign staff.

Sean Visoth, the office's Cambodian director, has decided to sever all dealings with the OSJI, the tribunal's Cambodian spokesman, Reach Sambath, said Wednesday.

The OSJI has helped organize legal training for the tribunal's Cambodian staff in the past, Reach Sambath said.

He said Sean Visoth has also sent a letter to OSJI Executive Director James A. Goldston accusing the group of being irresponsible in making the allegations.

"They released the statement without responsibility. Cooperation with an organization that shows such bad faith and bias is impossible," Reach Sambath said.

Peter Foster, a U.N.-appointed tribunal spokesman, said Sean Visoth's decision was unilateral and does not keep the OSJI from having full access to the tribunal's premises and to other officials involved in the tribunal.

The U.N.-appointed deputy director of administration, Michelle Lee, has not issued any ban on OSJI, he said, adding that "We still consider them a valuable partner in the process."

If the OSJI's allegations turn out to have merit, "we believe they should be fully investigated," Foster said.

The corruption accusations could deal another blow to the already troubled tribunal, which is set to convene later this year after long delays.

However, there are concerns that further delays could result from continuing disagreements between Cambodian and foreign judges on draft rules for the proceedings.

The tribunal has been set up to operate under Cambodia's judicial system, which is widely regarded as corrupt and susceptible to political influence.

Foster said meetings scheduled to resume early next month will be an opportunity for Cambodian and foreign judges to tackle their differences over the tribunal draft rules.

He said foreign judges could "pull out" of the whole process, as allowed by a clause in the tribunal agreement, "should the U.N. feel that international standards are not being maintained." Read more!

Vietnam to grow rubber trees in Cambodia and Laos

21:16' 21/02/2007 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – The Government has recently given the green light for the Viet Nam Rubber Corporation (VRC) to invest an estimated US$4mil in planting 4,000 ha of rubber trees in Cambodia this year.

Under a bilateral cooperation plan, VRC will provide funding, seedlings and necessary equipment for the planting. The investment was part of a project to cultivate 100,000 ha of rubber trees in Cambodia which was previously approved by the Government.

Recently, a company of Vietnam signed with a representative of the Lao Government an agreement on planting rubber trees and building a rubber latex processing mill in the southern region of Laos.

The project will be carried out in 8,000 ha of land in Sekong province of Laos.

An official of the province said this was the second company of Vietnam to have been licensed to implement rubber tree planting project in the locality and the project was part of the province's re-afforestation plan.

(Source: VNA)
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Cambodia considers more seats for National Assembly

Cambodia has organized a six- member committee to study the possibility of raising the number of seats of the National Assembly, an official said on Wednesday.

"So far we have met only for one time to discuss the matter and we have not got the result yet," said Ek Sam Ol, chairman of the Legislation and Justice Committee of the assembly.

The result will be known in March, he said, adding that he had no comments over whether the assembly should be enlarged or not.

King Norodom Sihanouk signed a royal decree on January 26 to create the new committee to conduct such study and research in preparation for the general election in 2008, he said.

The committee includes one member from each major party in the assembly, two members from the Ministry of Interior, and one from the Statistics Department of the Ministry of Planning, said Ol, member of the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP).

Meanwhile, Nov Sowathearo, spokesman of the co-ruling Funcinpec Party, can not be reached for comment.

In addition, Sam Rainsy, president of Sam Rainsy Party, said recently that Cambodia should increase the number of seats of the top legislative body by 10 because the kingdom's population has risen to about 14 million.

Currently, the National Assembly has 123 seats for lawmakers. Among them, 73 are from CPP, 26 from Funcinpec, and 24 from the Sam Rainsy Party.

Source: Xinhua Read more!

Australian Senate president promises more cooperation with Cambodia

Australian Senate President Paul Calvert has promised to carry out more cooperation with and extending more aid to Cambodia during his recent visit here, reported official news agency AKP on Wednesday.

While meeting with Calvert here on Monday, King Norodom Sihamoni said his visit will further strengthen and consolidate the bonds of relationship and cooperation in all fields between the two countries.

He also thanked Australia for playing an active role in helping Cambodia seek for peace and granting aids for country's development in all sectors, particularly agriculture, health care, human resources and legal affairs.

While separately meeting with Senate President Chea Sim and National Assembly President Heng Samrin here on Monday, Calvert said that the Australian Senate will further support and provide more assistance, especially human resources training, for Cambodian Senate officials.
He also highly valued the government's and the legislative bodies' achievements in the rehabilitation and economic development of the kingdom.

While meeting with Calvert here on Monday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that Cambodia and Australia should further push forward their cooperation.

"At this moment, our cooperation is better (than before), especially in fighting terrorism, drug and human trafficking, and intelligence information exchanges, but we should further promote it," he said.

Calvert was here on an official visit. Detailed schedule of his visit has not been disclosed.

Source: Xinhua Read more!