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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Cambodia, Vietnam to sign parliamentary cooperation agreement

Cambodian and Vietnamese national assemblies will sign a bilateral cooperation agreement when President of the Vietnamese National Assembly Nguyen Phu Trong visits Cambodia from Wednesday to Saturday.

"The bilateral cooperation focuses on the exchange of visits for both sides' parliamentary members," Heng Samrin, president of the Cambodian National Assembly, told reporters on Wednesday.

Border issues and the dispute about the Khmer Krom people will not be touched during the visit, he added.

During the visit, Nguyen Phu Trong will receive an audience granted by King Norodom Sihamoni, according to a government press release.

He is also expected to meet with Senate President Chea Sim, Heng Samrin and Prime Minister Hun Sen.

He will later visit the National Museum in Phnom Penh and the Angkor Wat in Siem Reap.

Source: Xinhua
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Cambodia passes standard law

The Cambodian National Assembly Wednesday approved the Law of Standard of Cambodia, which is expected to standardize the quality of imported and exported goods of the kingdom.

"This law will urge our local enterprises and producers to produce commodities of unified standard," said Ith Prang, secretary of state at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy.

It will also encourage all manufacturers to compete with each other on equal basis in market, he added.

Under the law, an Institute of Standard of Cambodia (ISC) will be established to help clarify quality standard of imported and exported products.

Meanwhile, anyone who uses illegally the mark of Standard of Cambodia on their products will be sentenced to jail from six days to one month together with a fine from 125 to 500 U.S. dollars.

The law was passed as a way to implement the conditions of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which Cambodia entered in 2004.

Source: Xinhua
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Cambodia to invest 2.5 bln USD to develop road system

The Cambodian government will invest 2.5 billion U.S. dollars to develop the kingdom's road system from now to 2025, an official said on Tuesday.

"Developing road system is a main factor for helping reduce poverty in this country, because people can transport their products to sell in markets. Roads will make them feel easy to travel and communicate between city and rural areas," said Sun Chan Thol, Minister of Public Works and Transportation.

The budget will also help improve transportation safety in the country, he said, while addressing his ministry's annual work review.

"We are considering to find aid and loan from the Asian Bank of Development, the World Bank and the Australian government of about 42 million U.S. dollars to facilitate the plan," he added.

During last week's Khmer New Year, some 50 people died and over 300 were injured in road accidents, which have become the third largest killer for the Cambodians after AIDS and mines, according to statistics released along the meeting.

Source: Xinhua
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Hun Sen downplays foreign concern over Cambodia's oil benefits

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh on Tuesday called on foreign countries not to be concerned too much about Cambodia's oil and gas benefits expected to come in 2009-2010.

"We Cambodians will use the benefits from oil and gas properly, " he said while addressing the annual work review of the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation.

Part of the benefits will be spent to expand rural roads into national roads across the country, he said.

Earlier this year, he said that the benefits will mainly go to the education and health sectors.

"For nearly 30 years, we have developed our country from zero level to the current prosperity with political stability. During that time, people have only small fish to eat. When have gold ( namely the benefits of oil and gas ), we still know how to develop this country," he said on Tuesday.

"we thank all of the foreigners who have expressed concern about the so-called 'oil curse' for Cambodia," he added.

"Oil curse" used to mean that countries rich in oil and gas can 't benefit from the resources but instead become trapped with corruption and injustice due to their poor management capability.

Currently, Chevron from the united states, LG from South Korea, and a Japanese company have invested and conducted exploration in the oil and gas fields in off-sea Cambodia.

The government declines to give exact figures about the oil reserves. The World Bank has put them at 2 billion barrels while the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) confirmed 700 million barrels.

A UNDP study implied that future oil revenues alone could provide over three times the kingdom's official development assistance received in 2005.

Source: Xinhua
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US takes Cambodia police chief to task over rights, corruption

Senior US officials confronted Cambodia's visiting police chief Tuesday over allegations of rights abuses and corruption by his forces after human rights groups protested the US decision to allow him into the country, the State Department said.

Hok Lundy, Cambodia's national police chief, met here Tuesday with the State Department's top Asia official, Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill, top anti-narcotics diplomat Anne Patterson and an official from the bureau in charge of human rights, democracy and labor, the department said.

The trio "urged Lundy and the Cambodian police to strengthen significantly their efforts to combat trafficking in persons, which remains a serious problem in Cambodia," it said in a statement.

"They also urged that Cambodia make much greater efforts to prosecute and convict public officials, including police officers, who are involved in trafficking, and that Commissioner General Lundy make the police more responsive to trafficking issues," it said.

The State Department refused a visa to Hok Lundy in 2006 due to allegations he was involved in trafficking in prostitutes.

But it granted him permission to visit Washington this week for counter-terrorism talks with officials of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which has praised the Cambodian officer in the past for his help in the government's so-called "war on terrorism".

The decision to grant the visa drew angry protests from human rights activists who accuse Hok Lundy of involvement in multiple crimes, including a 1997 grenade attack against anti-government demonstrators that killed at least 19 people and wounded more than 120 others, including a US national.

The FBI classified the attack as an act of terrorism.

Hok Lundy has also been accused of involvement in other politically motivated killings and drug trafficking.

While acknowledging the seriousness of the charges against Hok Lundy, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack last week said there were "compelling reasons" to grant him a visa for this week's meetings at the FBI. He did not elaborate.

In its statement Tuesday, the department said there had been improved bilateral cooperation with Cambodia in counter-terrorism and counternarcotics efforts.

But it said the US officials pressed Hok Lundy to improve on Cambodia's "poor human rights record" and problems of corruption which were highlighted in the State Department's 2006 Human Rights Report.

Before leaving Cambodia, Hok Lundy said the allegations against him were cooked up by his political opponents.

"The report is not true ... they want to attack me because I am in the government," he told local media, adding that the FBI's invitation was a sign of the US government's confidence in his work.

"The US government thinks that I am a good law enforcement leader," he said.
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