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Monday, December 13, 2010

China, Cambodia agree to build comprehensive strategic partnership

EIJING, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- China and Cambodia on Monday agreed to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation and further strengthen bilateral cooperation.

The consensus was reached during talks between Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and visiting Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in the Great Hall of the People, downtown Beijing.

"Facing the complicated regional and international situation, China and Cambodia should share the opportunities, and join hands in coping with the challenges and promoting peace and development," said Wen.

He said China and Cambodia have forged closer bilateral relations in recent years with frequent high-level contacts, close cooperation on issues involving each other's major concerns and common interests, increasing political and strategic mutual trust, and expanding pragmatic cooperation.

Hun Sen expressed his appreciation to China for its long-term support and assistance to Cambodia. He said Cambodia hoped to continue to have close contact with China at all levels, enhance mutual trust and deepen comprehensive cooperation.

He also vowed that Cambodia would continue to abide by the one-China policy and respect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Wen welcomed Cambodia to make full use of the free trade agreement between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and expand investment in China.

Wen said the government would encourage Chinese companies to increase investment in Cambodia and help in its construction of special economic zones. China will look to expand cooperation with Cambodia in areas including agriculture, infrastructure construction, finance and human resources, and continue to provide assistance, he added

The premier called on the two sides to increase per annum bilateral trade to 2.5 billion U.S. dollars by 2015. For the first half of this year, bilateral trade was worth 627 million U.S. dollars, up more than 37 percent.

Hun Sen said Cambodia welcomed China's investment and wanted to export agricultural products to China.

Wen also called on the two countries to strengthen coordination within various regional mechanisms and on coping with non-traditional security threat, so as to maintain their common interest.

Hun Sen said Cambodia will work with China to promote ASEAN-China ties and maintain regional peace and stability.

After the talks, officials from the two countries signed 13 deals on cooperation in areas such as energy, infrastructure, finance and consular affairs.

Lasting from Dec. 13 to 17, this was Hun Sen's third official China visit since taking office.

Besides Beijing, Hun Sen will also visit north China's Tianjin Municipality and east China's Jiangsu Province.
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Human Rights Party Wary of Royalist Coalition, For Now

The Human Rights Party said Monday it would not join the Norodom Ranarridh Party, which has seen the return of its leader and the prospects of a royalist coalition.

Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who returned to his party this week, said at a party congress on Saturday he was seeking a partnership with Funcinpec, the only other party to hold administrative seats in the government alongside the ruling Cambodian People's Party. He also said he would seek cooperation with the Human Rights Party.

In a statement to the media on Monday, Kem Sokha, president of the Human Rights Party, said he had not met with the prince, nor would he consider joining a coalition for the time being.

Kem Sokha said Norodom Ranarridh had not yet clearly defined the stance of his party and whether it was a “democratic” or “communist” party. Whether his party would join in a partnership depends on that platform, he said.

“The Human Rights Party always welcomes democratic parties, and the parties that are considering the country's interests and the people's interests,” he said.

Pen Sangha, a spokesman for the Norodom Ranariddh Party, which offiially changed its name back from the Nationalist Party on Saturday, said Kem Sokha and the prince had met with each other in the past to discuss a potential partnership. At the time, Kem Sokha had agreed in principle to join if the prince returned to politics, he said.

Norodom Ranariddh, the main political rival of Prime Minister Hun Sen throughout the 1990s, has remained out of politics since 2008, when he was granted a royal pardon for embezzlement charges against him and returned from exile abroad.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said on Saturday the return of Norodom Ranariddh to politics should necessitate his resignation as a royal adviser to his brother, King Norodom Sihamoni, a post he has held since his return.
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