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Monday, August 04, 2008

Kuwait eyes Cambodian farmland for investment

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia

Kuwait is eyeing Cambodian farmland for investment in agriculture to produce food supply for the oil-rich Gulf state, a minister said Monday.

Kuwait's Prime Minister Sheik Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah discussed the idea during his meeting with his counterpart Prime Minister Hun Sen, said Khieu Kanharith, the Cambodian Information Minister.

"Kuwait has a lot of money, but Cambodia has a lot of fertile land," he told reporters Monday, adding that investment in agriculture was the main subject of discussion during the visit by the Kuwaiti leader.

The minister said officials from the two countries will hold more talks to discuss investment opportunities but did not elaborate on how much farmland Kuwait would be investing in.

Kuwait, an oil-rich country with a population of a million people, is the second Gulf state after Qatar to express interest in Cambodian farmland.

During his visit in March, Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al-Thani also discussed a similar investment plan with Cambodian officials.

"Kuwait is rich in oil but it is covered mostly with desert ... the cost of (agricultural projects) must be high," Khieu Kanharith said.

"We have a rice farmland of 2 million hectares (5 million acres) nationwide," he added. "It still has a potential to increase yield."

On Monday, Cambodian and Kuwaiti officials also signed agreements to foster economic cooperation, protect investment, and establish direct flights between the two countries.

The Cambodian government also asked Kuwait for assistance in training its workers in the field of offshore oil, Khieu Kanharith said.

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Cambodia: Phnom Penh In Control

Two wins out of two have given Phnom Penh Empire FC the full points as they stretched to a 13 point lead at the top of the Cambodia Premier League 2008.

The close 2-1 win over second-placed Build Bright United FC the previous week was quickly followed by an inspiring 2-0 victory over Kirivong Sok Sen Chey FC.

Two goals in each half from Phuong Narong (16th minute) and Chan Rithy (83rd minute) were enough for Phnom Penh to pick up the full points against Build Bright even though the latter did pull a goal back in the 61st minute off O. Olisaemeka.

Against Kirivong, Phnom Penh need not suffer such drama as they blasted in two goals from Chan Rithy (18th minute) and Sun So Panha (77th minute) for the win.

In the meantime, two early goals from Hok Sokithya (29th minute) and O. O. Joseph (38th minute) did little to help basement side Intry Kraham-Post FC when they were held to a 2-2 draw by Khemara Keila FC.

Khemara fought back after the break with a brace from A. Tunjiayoyinka (70th and 81st minute) for the one point.


CURRENT CAMBODIA PREMIER LEAGUE 2008 STANDINGS

1. PHNOM PENH EMPIRE FC 33pts (+17)

2. BUILD BRIGHT UNITED FC 20pts (+11)

3. PREAH KHAN REACH FC 20pts (+4)

4. NAGA CORP FC 17pts (+4)

5. KHEMARA KEILA FC 17pts (+3)

6. NATIONAL DEFENSE MINISTRY FC 16pts (+3)

7. KIRIVONG SOK SEN CHEY FC 14pts (-6)

8. MOHA GARUDA FC 11pts (-8)

9. PHUCHUNG NEAK FC 9pts (-12)

10. INTRY KRAHAM-POST FC 4pts (-16)
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Thailand in wrangle with Cambodia over second disputed border temple

by Shen Min

BANGKOK, With the Preah Vihear temple issue still hanging on, Thailand and Cambodia have now engaged themselves in a new wrangle regarding another ancient temple on the disputed border.

This time it is about Ta Moan Thom temple, a 13th-century Khmer-style temple, or "Prasat" as Thais call, which is situated on Thai-Cambodian border between in Phanom Dong Rak district, Surin province in northeastern Thailand and Cambodia's Banteay Meanchey province.

Responding to latest reports that Cambodia has accused Thai soldiers of occupying Ta Moan Thom temple, over which Cambodian authorities also claimed ownership, the Royal Thai Army issued a statement on Monday saying that "Thai military deploying at Ta Moan Thom has their duty to look after the border area as usual. They have continuously done this mission for a long time."

"Thai military has been stationed on Thai site and never encroached into neighboring country. The situation in that area is still normal, military of both countries has closely coordinated to prevent crashes and any misunderstanding," the statement said.

It also said that the Thai Army will "do anything to protect the sovereignty of the nation" in line with the principle of maintaining good relation between two countries.

Earlier on Monday, Thailand's Supreme Commander Gen Boonsang Niampradit said that he has handed a letter to Cambodian authorities, stating Thailand's sovereignty over the land at the Ta Moan Thom temple.

Meanwhile, Thailand's Fine Arts Department has nominated the Khmer-style Ta Muen Thom temple, situated on disputed Thai-Cambodian border area, to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the department's director general Kriengkrai Sampatchalit said Monday.

Kriengkrai was quoted by local media as saying that the UNESCO is scheduled to consider the Thai nomination of the Ta Moan Thom as well as other Khmer-style temples in Thailand's northeastern provinces Surin, Buri Ram and Nakhon Ratchasima under "the Khmer Civilization Route" during its meeting next year.

This move will be naturally viewed as a tit-for-tat pose to Cambodia's earlier successful bid to list the Preah Vihear temple as the World Heritage Site.

According to Kriengkrail, the Ta Toan Thom is located "just about 100 meters from the border in the Thai soil." The Fine Arts Department discovered and registered it as one of Thai ancient items in 1935, or about 73 years ago, he said.

The Thai side has since then renovated it and opened it for public long time ago, he said, adding the Cambodian government has acknowledged the renovation and all activities related to the place.

Kriengkrai responded to a recent report that the Cambodian troops tried to cross the border to visit the place, but was declined by the Thai army.

He said Ta Moan Thom has usually welcomed all visitors but the Thai army stepped in to take care of the Khmer visit because they came in uniform and were armed with weapons.

Nationalist sentiment has grown in both countries since Cambodia's bid to list the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple situated at a disputed border area as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Thailand then withdrew its support, with then Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama sacrificing his job to public emotion and judiciary oppugn, but it did not stop the UNESCO from adding the Preah Vihear to the World Heritage list last month.

Thai and Cambodian military have beefed up military presence along the disputed border since July 15 after three Thais including a monk were briefly detained by Cambodian soldiers for breaking into the temple, which had been closed to the public by Cambodian authorities as border tension rose.

On Monday, the Supreme Commander Boonsang also said the Thai army will provide relevant information for the Foreign Ministry for consideration before negotiating with its Cambodian counterpart over the Preah Vihear temple issue.

Thai newly appointed Foreign Minister Dej Bunnag is expected to hold a second round meeting with his Cambodian counterpart in SiemReap, Cambodia in an attempt to ease military and diplomatic stand-off between the two countries resulting from the Preah Vihear dispute.

The July 28 talks between the two sides produced no breakthrough but a joint statement in which the two countries agree no "adjusting military deployment" along the disputed border and act with restraint.

However, one week after the meeting, the two sides have shown no sign of reducing troops stationed there.

Boonsang said the withdrawal of troops has to be carefully discussed as the issue is sensitive, complicated and could affect the two nations' sovereignty.


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Thailand has occupied second temple: Cambodia

* Army official says around 70 Thai soldiers have occupied Ta Moan Thom temple

PHNOM PENH: Cambodia said on Sunday that Thai soldiers were occupying a second temple along the border in an escalation of an ongoing armed standoff that nearly led to clashes between the neighbours last month.

Major Sim Sokha, a Cambodian border protection unit deputy commander, said around 70 Thai soldiers on Thursday occupied the 13th century Ta Moan Thom temple in a northwestern border region of Cambodia. Major Taveesak Boonrakchart, a spokesman for the Thai army in the disputed area, denied the allegations. He said troops from both countries had been in the area for years. The temple is several hundred miles west of the 11th century Preah Vihear temple, where Cambodian and Thai soldiers have been locked in a standoff for three weeks in a dispute over nearby land. Sim Sokha said Thai soldiers had been deployed in an 80-yard radius around the temple grounds and had prevented Cambodian troops from entering. He said around 40 Cambodian soldiers were in close proximity to the Thai troops.

“They (Thai troops) said they will pull back only when the issue near Preah Vihear temple is resolved,” Sim Sokha said by telephone from Oddar Meanchey province, around 290 miles northwest of the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. He said the Cambodian soldiers had been given orders to exercise restraint and wait for the government to try to resolve the issue with Thailand. Khieu Kanharith, the chief Cambodian government spokesman, said he was aware of a new troop movement but was unable to give details. He said his government would try to solve the issue through peaceful means.

Although it is not as well known as the Angkor or Preah Vihear temples, Ta Moan Thom is part of the architectural wonders of the ancient Khmer empire. It was built in the 13th century as a rest house along a road linking the ancient Angkor city with what is currently northeastern Thailand, said Chuch Phoeun of the Cambodian Ministry of Culture.

The border dispute erupted last month near the Hindu-style Preah Vihear when the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) approved Cambodia’s application to have the complex named a World Heritage Site. Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej had backed the bid, sparking anti-government demonstrations by Thais near the temple. Thailand then sent troops to the border area.

Thai government critics fear the temple’s new status will jeopardise their country’s claims to land adjacent to the site. Around 800 troops from Cambodia and 400 from Thailand remain at a pagoda near the temple complex, despite a tentative agreement reached by foreign ministers last Monday to re-deploy them in an effort to ease tensions. ap
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FBI to aid Cambodia in probing murder of reporter

PHNOM PENH, The Cambodian government has accepted an offer of assistance from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in pursuing the July 11 murder of opposition party-affiliated journalist Khim Sambo and his son, national media said Monday.

The U.S. Embassy on July 14 offered the help to investigate the drive-by shooting on street and the Cambodian Interior Ministry officially accepted the offer late Friday evening, English-Khmer language newspaper the Cambodia Daily quoted embassy spokesman John Johnson as saying.

It was too early to provide details about how FBI would help in the investigation, he added.

Khim Sambo was part-time reporter for the Khmer Conscience News, which is closely related to the opposition Sam Rainsy Party. He used to write about the corruption acts of senior government officials of Cambodia.

FBI opened its Phnom Penh Legal Attache office on Feb. 1 inside the U.S. Embassy.
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