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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Vietnamese, Cambodian armies build up cooperation

The armies of Vietnam and Cambodia have vowed to continue exchanges of experience and visits of military delegations in the future to foster their cooperation.

The consensus was reached by Senior Lieutenant General Le Van Dung, General Director of the General Politics Department of the Viet Nam People’s Army, and visiting General Neang Phat, Secretary of State of the Ministry of National Defence of Cambodia, at their talks held in Hanoi on June 11.

General Neang Phat is head of a delegation from the General Military Services Department of Cambodia, who started their official visit to Vietnam on June 10.

The two sides informed each other of the recent development of their armed forces and agreed to continue cooperation in those areas put forward in a protocol signed between the two Defence Ministries.

They also committed to carry out joint sea patrols and increase efforts in locating and repatriating Vietnamese volunteer soldiers and experts who had died during the wars in Cambodia.

Earlier, at a reception for the Cambodian delegation, Sen. Lt. Gen. Dung applauded their visit to Vietnam, saying that it would help to boost mutual understandings between the two countries.

On the same day, the Cambodian military officials paid a courtesy visit to Defence Minister Sen. Lt. Gen. Phung Quang Thanh.
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Cambodia launches construction of Prek Kdam Bridge over Tonle sap River

The Cambodian government held ground breaking ceremony on Monday for the construction of the Prek Kdam Bridge over Tonle sap River, which is under preferential buyer's credit loan from China.

The bridge will become a transportation hub of Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen said while addressing the ceremony, adding that it will help promote the economic development of this country.

According to the project information, the Prek Kdam Bridge is 975 meters in length and 13.5 meters in width, with a designed traffic speed of 60 km per hour.

The construction period of the 28.78 million U.S. dollars project will last 50 months, it said. The contractor of the project is Shanghai Construction (Group) General Company from China.

The China Eximbank signed an agreement with the Cambodian government on Jan. 22 to offer 207 million U.S. dollars of loans to develop Cambodian infrastructure construction, including the construction of the National Road No. 8, the National Road No. 76, the Prek Tamak Bridge over Mekong River and the Prek Kdam Bridge.

Source: Xinhua
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Cambodia asks UN status for border temple

Phnom Penh (dpa) - The Cambodian government has renewed efforts to have Unesco classify the ancient Preah Vihear temple (Khao Phra Viharn in Thai) as a World Heritage site, government spokesman Khieu Kanharith confirmed Monday.

Kanharith confirmed reports in the Khmer-language Rasmei Kampuchea newspaper that the important 11th to 12th century temple, which lies in the far north of the country perched on the Thai border, should be recognised as a World Heritage monument to help assure its continued preservation.

"This is not the first time the government has attempted to have Preah Vihear listed as a World Heritage site, but now several people in the government understand the procedures necessary to put this case much better," Kanharith said by telephone.

He said Foreign Minister Hor Namhong and Deputy Prime Minister Sok An were leading the new push for World Heritage classification. The government last attempted to have the key religious and architectural site classified in 2001.

Khao Phra Viharn was formally recognised as under Cambodian sovereignty in 1961 by the International Court of Justice after both Thailand and Cambodia had claimed jurisdiction.

Royal decrees passed by Cambodia with guidance from Unesco since 2002 have helped the Cambodidan government model ways to better manage and preserve the remote and partially ruined temple, assisting its current chances of finally being granted World Heritage listing.

However the site remains only easily accessible from the Thai side of the border despite its huge significance to Cambodians.

The Angkor Wat temple complex, 200 kilometres south of Preah Vihear near the northern city of Siem Reap, was granted World Heritage status by Unesco in 1992. Angkor Wat is the not only the country's largest tourist draw but its most important religious and cultural symbol.
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Thailand, seemed ichy for more Muslim trouble, monkies around neighbour Muslim

Phnom Penh (dpa) - Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday angrily dismissed reported comments by a top Thai aide that Cambodian Muslims had been involved in terrorist activities, ordering his Foreign Ministry to carpet the Thai ambassador over the claims.

In a speech broadcast on national media, Hun Sen assured Cambodia's minority ethnic Muslim population that the government would stand firmly behind it and dismissed the claims as having no basis in fact.

His retort followed a report Saturday in the Bangkok Post quoting General Wattanachai Chaimuenwong, a close aide to Thai Prime Minister Surayad Chulanont, as saying the Cambodian Muslims had infiltrated Thailand's restive south and were involved in terrorist activities there.

The report quoted the general as linking some Cambodian Muslims to the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) regional terrorist group. The story was widely picked up by Cambodian media.

"Please do not make your [Thai] internal problems international ones by painting this colour on Cambodian Muslims," Hun Sen said at a groundbreaking ceremony just outside the capital.

He demanded that Surayad correct his aide's allegation and said he had ordered the Cambodian Foreign Ministry to summon the Thai ambassador to explain the matter.

"The Thai military and police are weak," Hun Sen charged. "I am disappointed on behalf of Cambodia when they mistakenly accuse Cambodian Muslims of this. They are good people. Cambodian Muslims are not stupid like this to work as soldiers."

During the speech, Hun Sen pondered aloud whether Thailand "did not think it had enough trouble with its own Muslims" and perhaps wanted to add to its problems by insulting more Muslims in the region.

"All Cambodian Muslims, do not worry," he said. "The government will stay with you on behalf of all your compatriots, even though you are a different religion."

He said the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok would also request the Thai government provide evidence for the allegations and pledged to cooperate with the Thai government at all levels if it could prove there was a basis for the claims.

Wattanachai has previously made the same allegations, but backed down on similar claims last month. Thai authorities were also reported as claiming that deadly New Year's bomb attacks in Bangkok had been fuelled by materials provided from Cambodia, but those claims, too, were never proven.

Cambodia, like neighbouring Thailand, is a majority Buddhist country, with far less than 5 per cent of its population identifying itself as ethnic Cambodian Cham Muslims.

Although there have been allegations of infiltration of some Cham communities by more radical Islamic elements from overseas in the past, at present the Cham live peacefully within the Cambodian community.
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Chinese firms study rail route from HCMC to Cambodia border

Two Chinese firms have submitted a feasibility study for building a rail route in Vietnam linking southern hub Ho Chi Minh City with Binh Phuoc to its northwest.
The China Railway Construction Corporation and the China Machinery Import and Export Corporation have forged a partnership for the project.

The study for the 128.5-km route to the Vietnam-Cambodia border has been submitted to Vietnam’s Transport Ministry.

It is estimated to cost US$438 million.

The track will allow passenger trains to run at up to 120 km per hour.

Construction is scheduled to start in 2010 or earlier if funding is secured.

The route will be part of the 5,500-km Trans-Asia railway beginning in Kunming in China’s Yunnan province, and traveling through Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Malaysia before terminating in Singapore.

The project, initiated by Malaysia in 1995, is expected to be completed in 2015.
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