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Monday, August 24, 2009

Siam Cement may revive Vietnam petrochemical plans

BANGKOK, Siam Cement PCL (SCC.BK), Thailand's largest industrial conglomerate, said on Monday it could move ahead with a plan to build a petrochemical complex in Vietnam that has been delayed by the global economic crisis.

The project required an investment of about $3-4 billion and sentiment in financial markets hads now improved, which could make it easier for the company to get financing, President Kan Trakulhoon told reporters.

"The situation has improved and we decided to hire an adviser. In the past, we had to postpone it because the financial market was closed. If we get some financing, we will move ahead," Kan said.

In March, Siam Cement said the project would be delayed for at least two years because the global financial crisis had made it difficult for the company and its partner, Petrovietnam, to finance the project.

Apart from the petrochemical complex in Vietnam, Siam Cement also delayed two cement projects in Indonesia and Cambodia.

Vietnamese state oil group Petrovietnam and Siam Cement began construction of the joint-venture complex last year in the southern province of Ba Rai Vung Tao.

The first part of the project had been expected to be completed in 2011 and the second in 2013.

At 0457 GMT, Siam Cement shares were up 1.82 percent at 195.50 baht, in line with the overall Thai stock market. ($1=34.00 Baht) (Reporting by Pisit Changplayngam; Writing by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Alan Raybould)

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Tourist arrivals rebound in July in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, A 10 percent jump in tourist arrivals in July eroded losses over the first six months of the year, local media reported on Monday, citing unofficial numbers released by Tourism Minister Thong Khon.

More than 163,000 people visited the country last month, bringing arrivals for the first seven months of the year to 1,284, 085, a 0.3 percent rise on the l,246,685 million visitors through to the end of July 2008, the Phnom Penh Post quoted Thong Khon as saying.

Figures for the first six months of the year show a l.1 percent fall in visitor arrivals, compared with a year earlier, to 1,086, 518. The figures include tourists and business travelers.

An increase in visitors from neighboring Laos and Vietnam offset a huge fall in arrivals from South Korea, which was the single largest source country for foreign visitors in the early part of 2008.

Accurate numbers were unavailable for July, but visitors from South Korea fell 33 percent year-on-year over the first half from 160,446 to 106,345. Arrivals from Vietnam were up 40 percent over the same period from 105,275 to 147,721, while Laotian visitors increased 141 percent to 52,708.

"Vietnamese tourists still lead tourists from all other countries, followed by those from South Korea and America," he said.

Ho Vandy, co-chairman of the Government-Private Sector Forum's Tourism Working Group, said the slight recovery in July had been noticed. "[it's] a good sign for all of us who earn a living in the tourism sector, and we are not so concerned now about the slow months earlier this year," he said.

Cambodia's Hotel Association (CHA) President Luu Meng said the number of booking in hotels was increasing, indicating the recovery was the start of better times ahead. "We have received more reservations and bookings from people coming to stay and visit our country, mostly from Japan, Europe and America," he was quoted as saying.

Thong Khon said he was optimistic arrivals would expand between 2 percent and 3 percent from 2008, when 2.12 million people visited Cambodia. (PNA/Xinhua)

ALM/ebp
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PHI Mining Group Provides Corporate Update

LOS ANGELES, CA and FRANKFURT, GERMANY--(Marketwire - August 24, 2009) - PHI Mining Group, Inc. (PINKSHEETS: PHIG) (FRANKFURT: RPBA), www.phimining.com, a company engaged in mining, today announced management updates regarding important corporate activities.

Since November 2008, PHI Mining Group has entered into a number of agreements with strategic partners in Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam to participate in mining opportunities including gold, black pearl granite, copper, manganese, and limestone. Recently, the Company has also partnered with VCS Mining, LLC (www.vcsmining.com) to explore special opportunities in Haiti.

In the near term the Company will focus on the black pearl granite and manganese projects in Thailand, the copper project in Vietnam, the limestone project in Cambodia, and the VCS-PHI partnership in Haiti.

The black pearl granite mining area is situated in Wang Mee Commune, Wang Nam Kiew District, Nakhon-Ratchasima Province, Thailand, approximately 81 acres, with estimated total capacity of 1,400,000 cubic meters and minimum capacity of 495,000 cubic meters. In addition, other mines that are part of the this project include: (1) a brown marble mine in Saraburi Province with estimated total capacity of 1,750,000 cubic meters and minimum capacity of 750,000 cubic meters, (2) a black marble mine in Lopburi Province with estimated total capacity of 1,200,000 cubic meters and minimum capacity of 450,000 cubic meters, and (3) a yellow marble mine in Lampang Province with estimated total capacity of 1,800,000 cubic meters and minimum capacity of 800,000 cubic meters.

The mining area for the manganese deposits is approximately 125 hectares (approximately 310 acres), located in Village No. 4, Watthana Nakhon Sub-district, Watthana Nakhon District, Prachin Buri Province, Thailand. The value of this manganese mine is estimated to be in excess of $US 75 million.

The Vietnam copper mining area is located in Nam He - Huoi Say, Muong Tung Commune, Muong Cha District, Dien Bien Province. Nam He project is regarded as the fourth biggest reserve of copper ores in the Northwest region of Vietnam. Previous surveys have shown that the copper metal reserve amounts up to 200,000 metric tons, with an estimated valuation of approximately $1 billion.

The Cambodia limestone mining area is located in Strung Treng Province. It has been estimated that the mineralized deposits in this area exceed 2 billion metric tons and could be worth several billion dollars. PHI Mining Group has partnered with Paul Cham Group Co., a Phnom Penh-based company, to work on this project.

The VCS-PHI Joint Venture will initially focus on further exploration in selected locations that are expected to show significant mineralized deposits, the Northeastern and Southeastern areas of Haiti.

A geological study of the northeastern section of Haiti situated along the margin of the Caribbean plate reveals the presence of copper and gold porphyry deposits. This geological environment in Haiti, which hosts numerous gold and copper occurrences, is similar to the Pueblo Viejo deposit in the adjacent Dominican Republic. According to reports from Barrick Gold Corporation (www.barrick.com), Pueblo Viejo has 215 million tons of proven and probable reserves containing 20.4 million ounces of gold, 117.3 million ounces of silver, and 423.5 million pounds of copper, as of the close of 2007. In contrast, Haiti's mineral potential has yet to be fully explored.

PHI Mining is in the process of completing the required financial audits to update its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission and resume trading on the OTCBB. The Company will continue to report further progress on the projects mentioned above in the near future.

About PHI MINING GROUP

PHI MINING GROUP is a U.S.-based mining and exploration enterprise focused on acquiring and developing precious metal, base metal and industrial mineral properties. The company has signed agreements to acquire interests in gold, lead, zinc, copper, granite, and limestone properties in South East Asia and has partnered with VCS Mining, LLC. to explore mining opportunities in Haiti. PHI Mining Group is committed to high standards in the areas of environmental management and health and safety for its employees and neighboring communities. Web site: www.phimining.com.

Safe Harbor: This news release contains forward-looking statements that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those projected on the basis of such forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are made based upon management's beliefs, as well as assumptions made by, and information currently available to, management pursuant to the "safe-harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.

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Top army leaders of Cambodia, Thailand meet in Phnom Penh

PHNOM PENH, The top army leaders of Cambodia and Thailand met in Cambodia's capital of Phnom Penh on Monday to reiterate their good cooperation and to strengthen their relationship.
Cambodia's military sources said during the meeting Gen. Pol Saroeun, commander-in-chief of Cambodian Royal Armed Forces, and Songkitti Jaggabatara, supreme commander of the Thai army, reiterated their statements of making good cooperation and relations, especially, between the armies of the two nations.

Both Pol Saroeun and Songkitti affirmed that good cooperation and relations are of common interest for both nations, the sourcessaid.

The two sides, however, did not talk on redeployment of troops stationed near khmer Preak Vihear temple, saying the issue shall be left for decision by the two countries' regional commanders there.

It is the first time for Gen. Songkitti Jaggabatara to make a visit to Cambodia and it is also the first time to hold such top army leaders' meeting.

But since the border dispute between the two countries occurred last year that resulted in the deaths of a number of soldiers, and several others injured, many round of talks at different levels were held including prime ministers, defense and foreign ministerial level down to regional commanders.

Songkitti Jaggabatara who arrived in Cambodia late Monday will return to Thailand on Tuesday after a planned brief sightseeing visit to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap province.
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Iraq, Vietnam wars share similarities

Many thinking Americans believe that comparisons between current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the Vietnam conflict of 40 years ago are inappropriate and unnecessary. I disagree and would like to share several similarities I've discovered. Here are just a few:

Congress never declared war in Vietnam and did not fulfill this Constitutional obligation for Iraq or Afghanistan. Instead, Congress abrogated its responsibility and deferred these critical decisions to the president and his advisors. As a result, the United States was deprived of the opportunity to openly argue, debate and analyze the consequences of war before placing so many young Americans in harm's way.

The stated reasons for all these wars are suspect. In Vietnam, it was the dubious Gulf of Tonkin Resolution while in Iraq the elusive weapons of mass destruction justified an invasion. Committing our troops without debate and analysis allowed misinformation, fear and clouded judgment to establish foreign policy that the United States has endured for decades.

In Vietnam, U.S. military leadership seriously underestimated the determination and resolve of those "little guys in black pajamas" while in Afghanistan, the British, Russians and Americans were stunned that illiterate mountain tribesmen could go toe to toe with the best trained and equipped armies in the world. Only arrogance can explain this critical lapse in judgment.

Geopolitical considerations have influenced all of these conflicts. Remember that Cambodia and Laos were largely off limits to the U.S. incursions during the Vietnam War and were safe havens for our adversaries. Today, the rugged, frontier border regions of Pakistan and Iran pose similar problems for military planners.

Finally, our impatient, high-tech, push-button approach to warfare is at odds with hit and run tactics of elusive guerrilla fighters in the mountains of Afghanistan just as it was 40 years ago in the jungles of Vietnam. Asymmetrical warfare continues to befuddle our military strategists who promise surgically precise operations and quick results.

So, what is gained by comparing past and present armed conflicts? Perhaps if we reflect on where we've been we can better determine where we are going as a nation. And maybe Congress will face up to its most important constitutional obligation and challenge our chief executive when the issue is whether or not to send our people into war.

Greg Capito
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Millions Of Asian Women At HIV Risk

Approximately 50 million women in Asia are at risk of contracting HIV from their husbands or long-term partners, according to a UNAIDS report.

According to the report, by 2008, women accounted for 35% of all adult HIV cases in Asia, compared with 17% in 1990. In addition, more than 90% of the 1.7 million HIV-positive women in Asia contracted the virus from their husbands or long-term partners, according to UNAIDS.

It added that in Cambodia, India and Thailand, the largest number of new HIV cases occurs among married women.

According to the report, the spread of HIV in Asia primarily occurs through unprotected commercial sex, the sharing of dirty needles among injection drug users and unprotected sex among men who have sex with men.

Men who buy sex make up the largest group living with HIV, according to the report, which added that most of these men are either married or will get married. The report found that at least 75 million men regularly buy sex in Asia, while an additional 20 million are MSM or IDUs.
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