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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Hu Jintao's upcoming visit in Cambodia to boost ties (2)

"We hope that during Hu's visit, many cooperation agreements will be signed," he said.

During the interview, Khieu Kanharith also highlighted good cooperation between China and Cambodia, and China and ASEAN.

The diplomatic ties between Cambodia and China have been bridged for more than 60 years during the age of former Cambodian king Norodom Sihanouk and former Chinese leader Zhou Enlai, and the ties have been gradually fostered.

"Until now, our bilateral relations have reached the level of the comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation," he said.

On the ASEAN-China relations, he said, as ASEAN chair this year, Cambodia would do all its best to promote more mutual understanding between ASEAN and China and would act as a neutral mediator in the South China Sea dispute in order to solve the issue peacefully based on the DOC (the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea) signed between ASEAN and China in Phnom Penh in 2002.

In regard to some Western media reported that China's huge aid and investment in Cambodia are to possess the country's economy and politics, the minister said that China is the largest investor and provider of loan and grant to Cambodia, but China has never attached any conditions with its assistance.

"Chinese investment here is 8.8 billion U.S. dollars. It is the largest capital for Cambodia. With this investment, Cambodia can reconstruct infrastructures and it makes Cambodia have political independence, play a suitable role on international arena, and practically now chair the ASEAN," he said.

He said Cambodia has really appreciated China for its policy of other countries' sovereignty respect, non-interference in other countries' internal affairs, and peaceful co-existing.

"This Chinese policy is a factor that makes the situation in Asia stable," he said.

"We hope that during Hu's visit, many cooperation agreements will be signed," he said.

During the interview, Khieu Kanharith also highlighted good cooperation between China and Cambodia, and China and ASEAN.

The diplomatic ties between Cambodia and China have been bridged for more than 60 years during the age of former Cambodian king Norodom Sihanouk and former Chinese leader Zhou Enlai, and the ties have been gradually fostered.

"Until now, our bilateral relations have reached the level of the comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation," he said.

On the ASEAN-China relations, he said, as ASEAN chair this year, Cambodia would do all its best to promote more mutual understanding between ASEAN and China and would act as a neutral mediator in the South China Sea dispute in order to solve the issue peacefully based on the DOC (the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea) signed between ASEAN and China in Phnom Penh in 2002.

In regard to some Western media reported that China's huge aid and investment in Cambodia are to possess the country's economy and politics, the minister said that China is the largest investor and provider of loan and grant to Cambodia, but China has never attached any conditions with its assistance.

"Chinese investment here is 8.8 billion U.S. dollars. It is the largest capital for Cambodia. With this investment, Cambodia can reconstruct infrastructures and it makes Cambodia have political independence, play a suitable role on international arena, and practically now chair the ASEAN," he said.

He said Cambodia has really appreciated China for its policy of other countries' sovereignty respect, non-interference in other countries' internal affairs, and peaceful co-existing.

"This Chinese policy is a factor that makes the situation in Asia stable," he said.


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Australia to give $1 million to Angkor temples

The Federal Government says it will contribute $1 million towards a scheme to protect Cambodia's Angkor Wat temples.

The world-famous temple complex in Siem Reap province is visited by thousands of tourists each day.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr is in Cambodia on his first trip overseas since being sworn into his new role and says the funding will help preserve the 700-year-old monuments in the area.

"We're going to take the experience Australians gain managing Uluru and other world heritage sites, and see that in this great site," Mr Carr said.

"[It's] important to the whole world that there is a proper management of the tourist pressures, that the area's not going to be trampled to death, and that there's going to be protection from the damage that could be done by floods."

Senator Carr says the scheme will also ensure money from Angkor tourism reaches the hands of poor locals.
Senator Carr has also visited the Fred Hollows Foundation facility in Cambodia, which gets $6 million from AusAID to train local doctors and nurses to remove cataracts.

He will also visit Vietnam and Singapore on the trip.
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Drugs: our man in Cambodia

AUSTRALIAN police suspect a nephew of Cambodia's Prime Minister of involvement in a heroin trafficking and money laundering syndicate targeting Australia.

But a plan to arrest and question Hun To in Melbourne was thwarted because his application for a visa was denied by Australian embassy officials in Phnom Penh, with one official citing the need to avoid a diplomatic incident.

The targeting of Hun To by an Australian Crime Commission inquiry between 2002 and 2004 is one of several incidents that suggest strong and continuing links between local crime figures and Cambodia.

The Age can also reveal that Sydney crime figures have been investing millions of dollars of suspected drug proceeds in businesses in Cambodia, including some tied to influential government and business identities.

The revelations come after The Saturday Age reported that police had uncovered a global crime syndicate importing more than $1 billion of drugs into Australia annually, with connections to government and policing officials across Asia.

The inquiry that targeted Hun To, dubbed Operation Illipango, investigated the shipment of heroin into Australia from Cambodia in loads of timber.

Hun To, a nephew of Prime Minister Hun Sen, is a powerful and feared figure in Cambodia. He was once considered a close business associate of Cambodia's richest man, tycoon Kith Meng, who owns the Royal Group investment and development empire.

Operation Illipango investigated suspected drug funds taken to Crown casino in Melbourne, from where — under the suspected oversight of Hun To — they were then moved to Asia.

Kith Meng had numerous dealings with Hun To during Hun To's suspected crime activity, although The Age is not suggesting Kith Meng is involved in organised crime.

Kith Meng's Royal Group has partnered major Australian companies such as ANZ and Toll Holdings in joint venture projects in Cambodia.

Plans to arrest Hun To were derailed after his visa was cancelled. An embassy official briefed on the police operation targeting him is believed to have raised concerns that his arrest could create a diplomatic incident. An Immigration Department spokesman said privacy laws prevented the department from discussing whether he had applied for a visa or reasons why such an application may have been denied.

The only person charged with drug trafficking in connection to the ACC inquiry was Cambodian national Phenny Thai, a lowly associate of Hun To.

Phenny Thai was described in the Victorian Supreme Court in 2005 as having "strong connections with powerful people in Cambodia which facilitated his business enterprises." He had also "gained the rank of major in the Cambodian army, having paid for that appointment."

Among other Australians with suspected organised crime links to Cambodia are a Vietnamese-Chinese family that owns a well-known Sydney Asian restaurant.

Police have determined that over the past decade, the family has helped send more than $10 million to Cambodia, including suspected proceeds of drug trafficking. Some of the money was used to fund a casino. Other funds were invested in a casino cruise ship.

In 2006, an associate of this Australian crime family told an Asian news service that their casino business maintained "a good relationship with the Cambodian government."

Hun To could not be contacted for comment. Kith Meng said he was too busy to talk to The Age.
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