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Thursday, October 22, 2009

SKorean president visits Cambodia to boost ties

PHNOM PENH — South Korean president Lee Myung-bak arrived in Cambodia Thursday for a two-day official visit to boost ties and develop economic relations between the two countries.

Lee descended from his airplane to a red carpet at Phnom Penh International Airport, and then received an audience with King Norodom Sihamoni at the capital's royal palace and held talks with premier Hun Sen later in the day.

"Cooperation and relations between Cambodia and South Korea have been growing through many projects," Hun Sen said.

During their meeting, Lee and Hun Sen agreed to form a "strategic and cooperative partnership" between their countries, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters.

Lee also promised South Korea would provide 200 million dollars in soft loans to Cambodia between 2009 and 2013, Hor Namhong said.

In the lunchtime speech distributed to reporters, the South Korean president promised to help develop Cambodia's agricultural sector by providing new technology and training.

Over 500 South Korean companies were currently investing in Cambodia, Lee added.

The two countries also signed an extradition agreement and a deal for an initiative in which Cambodia would issue South Korean tourists multiple entry year-long visas, officials said.

"The visit by the South Korean president is very important. It will boost economic relations between the two countries," government spokesman Khieu Kanharith told reporters.

The Yonhap news agency has reported that South Korean investment in Cambodia increased to nearly 2.5 billion dollars last year from 30 million dollars in 1997.

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