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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Russia set to conclude WTO talks with Vietnam, Cambodia in June

ST. PETERSBURG, May 26 (RIA Novosti) - Russia hopes to conclude bilateral talks with Vietnam and Cambodia on its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) by the end of June, Russia's economics minister said Saturday.

Moscow has signed bilateral protocols with all but two WTO members, and has yet to complete multilateral talks with its trade partners within the 150-member organization.

"I believe we will be ready to sign [an agreement with Vietnam] in June," Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref said. "Also last details [of an agreement] are being coordinated with Cambodia."

Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, said following the Russia-EU summit in the Volga River city of Samara May 18 that the EU fully supports the prospect of Russia joining the global trade organization.

Earlier Andrei Kushnirenko, a deputy head of the trade talks department with the Russian Economic Development and Trade Ministry, said after joining the WTO, Russia will gain the right to defend its interests and participate in all talks on trade regulations planned for the next decade, although the country will start gradual transition to an open market economy only after a year of its accession.
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The romance of Indo-China

Ravi Teja Sharma / New Delhi May 27, 2007

Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos are worth a visit this summer.

Junk the usual summer international destinations like London and Paris and try a different kind of holiday. Check out parts of Asia so far inaccessible for many. Fly to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, also known together as Indo-China. There are still no direct flights to get to these countries from India but there are flights that take you there via either Malaysia, Singapore or Thailand . Once you reach, you are transported to a completely different world. Before this old world and natural beauty is lost, plan a trip fast.

After decades of war, Vietnam is finally rebuilding itself and attracting tourists in a big way. The two major cities in the country — capital Hanoi and modern Ho Chi Minh City are a major contrast and a must visit for any tourist.

Throughout the thousand years of its eventful history, marked by destruction, wars and natural calamities, Hanoi still preserves many ancient architectural works including the Old Quarter and over 600 pagodas and temples, which are quite a sight to behold. Hanoi also has 18 beautiful lakes such as Hoan Kiem Lake, West Lake, and Truc Bach Lake, which are the lungs of the city.

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon in the Mekong Delta, on the other hand, is one of the most important cities in Vietnam after Hanoi, being its commercial centre. Ho Chi Minh Museum, formerly known as Dragon House Wharf, Cu Chi Tunnels, museums, theatres, cultural houses are some of the places to visit. And if you like architecture, don’t miss the city’s beautiful buildings.

The two main cities to visit in Cambodia are its capital Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Phnom Penh is located at the confluence of three rivers — the Mekong, the Bassac and Tonle Sap. The most attractive part of Cambodia are undoubtedly its unending list of temples. The temples at Angkor Wat, about six kilometres from Siem Reap, south of Angkor Thom, are the most famous.
The oldest and loveliest of Laos city’s, Luang Prabang, was founded between the sixth and the seventh centuries and is renowned for its serenity. Much of the town and its pagodas are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When in the city, don’t miss Wat Xieng Thong, a temple built in 1560 and which was used for royal ceremonies.

The other city, Vientiane was partially rebuilt during the colonial period, with French-style buildings and is small, and picturesque. It contains some pagodas, museums, wide boulevards and attractions like Patuxai and Vientiane’s Arc de Triumphed.
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A long way from Cambodia, a girl is all smiles


By KEITH EDWARDS
Staff Writer


GARDINER -- Nine-year-old Maya Hughes shouldn't be the sweet third-grader who runs and laughs with classmates; loves rainbows, gardening with her mom, and cooking hot dogs on the grill; and punctuates nearly everything she says with "please" and "thank you."

Someone who spent most of her first two years of life neglected and malnourished, unable to walk or talk, suffering from birth defects and stuck in a hammock in the back room of a Cambodian orphanage, would seem to have every reason to be angry at the world. Instead, tiny Maya has a sunny disposition so infectious it rubs off on peers and adults alike.

"Maya has a perseverance and cheerfulness she carries with her everywhere she goes," said her third-grade teacher and family friend, Liz Hall. "The amazing thing is, when she's paired up with another student, that student also ends being kinder and more patient, too.

"If I could somehow have everyone pair up with her, this would be a better world."

Her mom, Susan Potter, said adults are not immune.

When they see Potter and Maya at Hannaford shopping for groceries, some other shoppers may catch Maya's smile, and end up with a big smile of their own.

"I'll see them two aisles later, still smiling," Potter said. "She just has this aura about her. She's the single most extraordinary human being I've ever known."

Maya was born Rath Srey Mom in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on May 11, 1998, with multiple birth defects later diagnosed as Pallister-Hall Syndrome. Her birth parents, Potter said, realized they couldn't meet her needs and left her with an orphanage. Potter said the orphanage didn't have enough food or other resources for all its children. So Maya, because she was disabled, was nearly ignored.

"She spent 23 months in a hammock in a back room, by herself," Potter said. "She was malnourished. She never had any toys to play with. She never had anyone hold her."

In April 2000, Maya was brought to the United States by the Sharing Foundation, a nonprofit foundation formed to try to improve the health and welfare of Cambodian children.

A few minutes spent with Maya recently in the River View Community School library hinted at the progress she has made.

She not only walks, she runs.

She not only talks as well as any typical 9-year-old, she talks in adult-sounding sentences starting with phrases like, "Let me tell you something."

And she has clearly bonded with her parents and teachers, hugging her mom often and saying she would miss her when Potter said she had to go back to work. She's been through 10 major surgeries -- including surgery on her teeth, hand and feet -- and dealt with complications including a bowel obstruction and fungal sepsis infection.

Maya likes many of the same things other 9-year-olds do.

"I like being with friends," she said, her brown eyes shining. "I like rainbows. Gardens. Computers. I like going to the theater."

But she also likes to clean, cook and help her mom in the garden.

Asked why she likes to help, she raised her arms from her sides and gazed back with a look of disbelief that said, without words: "How could I possibly not?"

Potter said people will complement her, as a mother, for having such a polite child.

"I tell them it's the other way around," Potter said. "When you're around her, you just behave in a more civilized, respectful manner."

By the time Maya came along, Potter was in her mid-40s and had already raised a son and daughter. She didn't have toys or a crib or other items for small children.

Soon, Maya's story got out in the community. And the community responded.

"I'd come home and find things on my porch -- a crib, toys... I still don't know where some of the stuff came from," Potter said.

Potter figures Maya is where she is, and who she is, for a reason.

"There is something different about this child," she said. "When destiny calls, you've got to be strong. I don't know what her destiny is or what she's going to do when she grows up. But there is a reason for this child to be here."

Keith Edwards -- 621-5647

kedwards@centralmaine.com
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