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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

China to increase cooperation with Cambodia in anti-drug work

BEIJING, Chinese State Councilor Meng Jianzhu on Tuesday called for more cooperation with Cambodia in anti-drug work.

Meng, who is also Chinese Minister of Public Security, made the remarks during the talks with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng.

Hailing the sound growth of Sino-Cambodian relations, Meng said the police authorities of the two nations also enjoyed increasing exchanges and pragmatic cooperation in recent years.

He also hoped the two sides work together to fight against transnational crimes and illegal immigration, and increase cooperation in repatriating criminal suspects and law enforcement training, in a bid to safeguard domestic stability of the two countries and push forward bilateral relations.

Sar Kheng said the Cambodian government valued the relationship with China, and was ready to expand bilateral cooperation in anti-drug work and cracking down on transnational crimes.

The two sides signed a cooperation memorandum of understanding between the Chinese and Cambodian governments on prohibiting illegal trafficking and abuse of drugs.
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US rockers The Click Five to play Cambodia's Angkor Wat

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — American rock band The Click Five plans to play a concert at Cambodia's famed Angkor Wat temple next month as part of a campaign to fight human trafficking, organiser MTV music channel said Monday.

The December 7 concert by the group, who are popular in Southeast Asia, is part of a series of music shows in Cambodia organised by MTV and the US Agency for International Development to raise awareness in young people about human trafficking in the region.

"What we have is the chance to reach out and create a lot of interest about human trafficking," Matt Love, spokesman for the MTV Europe Foundation, said of the concert.

Cambodia has struggled to shed its reputation as soft on human trafficking, and earlier this year suspended marriages between foreigners and Cambodians amid concerns they were being used to traffic poor, uneducated women.

The US State Department refused a visa to Cambodia's police chief Hok Lundy in 2006 due to allegations he was involved in trafficking prostitutes.

The previous international recording artist to perform at Angkor Wat, built in the 12th century and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was tenor Jose Carreras who sang for a charity gala dinner there in 2002.
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UPDATE: Many Challenges To Cambodia's Oil Upstream Hopes

SINGAPORE -(Dow Jones)- Cambodia is facing a wide range of challenges in developing its oil and gas upstream sector, even as it moves cautiously ahead with an offshore exploration project led by U.S. oil major Chevron Corp. (CVX), a senior government official said Tuesday.

The Cambodian National Petroleum Authority is also pushing for construction of the country's first oil refinery and mulling the establishment of a national oil company, but global interest in the country's hydrocarbons potential is lacking, progress on a petroleum law has been slow, and a long-running maritime acreage dispute with neighboring Thailand has yet to be settled.

"It's very difficult - when we opened (upstream blocks for) bidding in 1991 or 1992, nobody was interested," CNPA Vice-Chairman Ho Vichit said on the sidelines of the Asia Oil and Gas Investment Congress.

"So, we approached companies...to do direct negotiations," he said, attributing the poor investment interest to Cambodia's limited track record in terms of oil and gas reserves.

The country only started formal seismic surveys in January and has yet to finalize results, Ho said.

More than 10 foreign companies are drilling in Cambodia's six offshore blocks, including China National Offshore Oil Corp.

The government is optimistic that a consortium headed by Chevron remains on track to begin producing oil from offshore Block A next year, but the U.S. company has downplayed any firm timetables.

Ho said there are some technical challenges to overcome as reserves are spread over a wide are in small pools, but he said the project won't be shelved.

Earlier, Ho told the conference in Singapore that "it's premature to speculate" how much of the oil or gas discovered in 2005 can be pumped from offshore Block A, about 200 kilometers off the southern coast.

"It must be recognized that hydrocarbons shows (evidence) alone do not make...an oil or gas field, let alone an oil or gas field that might be viable for commercial development," he said.

The idea of a national oil company - the CNPA would play the role of regulator in such a scenario - remains at "a very preliminary stage," Ho said.

Cambodia's draft petroleum law, which would provide a legislative framework for extracting oil and gas, also remains "complicated" and is still some way from reaching the ministerial level, a step required before any approval by the national assembly. Ho also cited the need to translate the final document into languages suitable for potential investors as another factor contributing to the delay.

Meanwhile, the government is still negotiating with Thailand to jointly develop three offshore areas near Block A following a 2001 memorandum of understanding; a fourth area is claimed entirely by each side.

Ho wouldn't comment on whether the political upheavals in Bangkok have slowed progress in the talks.

For the downstream sector, Cambodia has contracted Japanese firm Toyo Engineering Corp. (6330.TO) to assist with a feasibility study to build a refinery.

A 50,000 barrel-a-day facility is being considered, tiny by international standards but perhaps an important first step to ease pressures from high petroleum import prices.

Cambodia, which doesn't subsidize domestic fuel prices, imports about 1 million metric tons a year of refined oil products, Ho said, pegging the country's economic growth around 7% a year.

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