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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

England soccer great Bobby Charlton visits Cambodia on land mine mission

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: England soccer great Bobby Charlton arrived in Cambodia on Tuesday as part of a mission to raise awareness for the impoverished Southeast Asian nation's continuing land mine problem.

"We are going to try to teach young people how to recognize the dangerous mines that are still around," said Charlton, who is in Cambodia as a supporter of charity Spirit of Soccer, which helps children in land mine affected areas of the world through the development of soccer.

An estimated 4-6 million mines and other pieces of unexploded ordinance remain buried in Cambodia after more than three decades of armed conflict.

Charlton will to tour land mine areas in Battambang province, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) northwest of the capital Phnom Penh, said Khek Ravy, vice president of Football Federation of Cambodia.

Spirit of Soccer operates one of its two soccer coaching projects in Cambodia, the other is in Bosnia.

On Thursday, Charlton — who joined Manchester United when he was 17 — will meet with young Cambodian soccer players to discuss some techniques with them.

Charlton, 70, is one of soccer's best known identities. He was a member of England's 1966 World Cup winning team, the same year he was named European Footballer of the Year.

The Manchester United director said Cambodia should promote its soccer to as high a level as many of its regional neighbors.

"It's about time," he said. "Everyone's waiting for Cambodia. Vietnam, China, everywhere else is very happy playing football."

World governing body FIFA ranks Cambodia's national team at 169 out of 208.

Charlton visited Spirit of Soccer's Bosnian program in 2005.
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Bananas head for jungle in Cambodia

JETSETTING Jupiter Mines directors David Evans and Jeremy Snaith certainly get around.

The pair - dubbed "bananas in pyjamas" after inappropriate antics in first class on a flight to Abu Dhabi earlier this year - have turned their attention to the Cambodian jungle.

Through a private company called Indochine Resources - in which Jupiter is a shareholder - Mr Evans and Mr Snaith have gained rights to roam among elephants, tigers and leopards as they pick up rock chip samples in the ASEAN heritage-listed Virachey National Park.

One of their fellow Indochine directors is Robert Coghill, a fellow first-class passenger on the infamous Etihad Airways flight. He provided an affadavit in support of Mr Evans and Mr Snaith.
Last month their lawyer, Ross Hill, said he was "unaware of any connection" between Mr Coghill and his clients. But last night Mr Hill could not reach Mr Evans to confirm.

The fourth and final Indochine director is Chris Eddy, an Australian based in Dubai.

Mr Evans and Mr Snaith were on their way to Dubai when they were arrested at the Abu Dhabi airport. Mr Hill said the visit was in part to attract investors to Indochine. It is believed Mr Evans and Mr Snaith have both travelled to South-East Asia since receiving suspended sentences from an Abu Dhabi judge.

The Cambodia Daily recently reported Indochine - previously named Battle Mountain Minerals - had signed a memorandum of understanding to search for minerals in Ratanakkiri province.

A geologist at Perth's Great Australian Resources, which has exploration projects in Cambodia, said a MOU would allow a company to survey an area and take rock chip samples but the concession would have to be converted to an exploration lease before drilling could take place.

The World Bank has been pushing for the Virarchey National Park to be protected from mining, having provided $US1.91 million ($2.16 million) in loans and $US2.75 million in grants to an environment ministry program since 2000.

World Bank spokeswoman Pichaya Fitts said the Cambodian government was expected to pass a law imposing a strict ban on mining in core areas of the park later this year.

Because very little minerals exploration has been conducted in Cambodia it has been deemed a highly prospective region.

Oxiana hit 33 metres at 9.9 grams per tonne of gold at an exploration project there and its annual report said "field assessment of other areas and projects of interest is ongoing".

Acting Jupiter chief executive Rob Benussi said his company previously had a direct investment in some of the Indochine leases but had converted the holding to shares in the unlisted company. In its March quarterly report, Jupiter said it had invested $120,000 in seed capital.

Meanwhile, Mr Snaith has sold another $28,000 of Jupiter shares. Jupiter is holding a meeting to vote on ousting Mr Evans and Mr Snaith as directors next month.
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