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Friday, August 03, 2007

Cambodia to open embassy in South Africa next year

Cambodia plans to open an embassy in South Africa in 2008 to strengthen relations and cooperation between the two nations, local media reported on Friday.

The plan was born after an Aug. 1 meeting between Ouch Borith, secretary of state of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and a visiting South African delegation led by Gloria Nonzwkazi Swartbooi, member of South Africa's Portfolio Committee, said Cambodian-language newspaper the Rasmei Kampuhcea.

Nonzwkazi Swartbooi said that he welcomes the establishment of a Cambodian embassy in South Africa to improve relations and cooperation between the two countries, the paper quoted the secretary of state as saying.

During the meeting, Ouch Borith requested that South Africa support Cambodia's non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council for a 2013 to 2014 mandate following an election to be held in 2012, reiterating his claim that the kingdom wants to enhance relations with South Africa and other African countries.

Source: Xinhua.
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FBI Has a New Outpost in Southeast Asia

When Laro Tan was a child, his family was forced to flee Cambodia during the brutal regime of the Khmer Rouge. Today, he’s back in his native land as an FBI agent working to stand up our new overseas office in its capital city of Phnom Penh.

The office—called a Legal Attaché or “Legat”—is one of some 60 Bureau outposts around the world. Each is headed by a special agent (also called a Legat) who serves as a formal member of the diplomatic staff in the U.S. Embassy and works to build close, mutually beneficial relationships with his or her international colleagues.

We call on these partnerships quite often. “So many of our investigations these days have an overseas connection,” says Tan, who was appointed acting Legat when the office officially opened in May. “We don’t have the authority to make arrests or track leads ourselves in other countries, so we go to our partners and ask for help. In return, we offer assistance in their cases with U.S. connections and encourage their agencies and officers to take advantage of the many training programs we offer.”

Why an office in Phnom Penh? Before, Cambodia was covered by the Bangkok Legat—which is more than 330 miles away from Phnom Penh—making relationship building more difficult. Now, Legat Tan handles both Cambodia and Vietnam, providing more on the ground coverage in the growing region of Southeast Asia.

The day-to-day work of the Legat. “It’s extremely busy, I can tell you that,” says Tan, who is permanently assigned to our Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate in Washington. “The FBI office in New York, say, might need help in tracking a suspect who has fled to Cambodia or who has bank accounts in this country. Or there might be an Asian gang in San Francisco that has ties to Cambodia or Vietnam that needs to be explored. And I’m constantly evaluating and providing assessments of threats that might migrate to U.S. shores.”

His specific partners include the Cambodian National Police, and in Vietnam, the Interpol office of the General Department of the Police, a division of the Ministry of Public Security.

Thanks to these relationships, in place long before the Legat was opened, we’ve shared several key successes in recent years:

Information and support provided by Cambodian officials helped lead to the capture of wanted terrorist Riduan Bin Isamuddin—aka Hambali—who orchestrated the bombing in Bali that killed more than 200 people in October 2002. Hambali was arrested in Thailand in 2003.

In November 2000, Cambodian Freedom Fighters tried to overthrow the government by attacking sites throughout Phnom Penh. A joint investigation led to the arrest of several of the subversives.
“In this day and age, the relationships we’ve built and continue to build in Cambodia and Vietnam are invaluable,” says Tan. “That’s why I’m here—to get to know my colleagues personally, to be a bridge between our countries. For me, especially as a native of Cambodia, I consider it an honor.”

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