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Friday, November 30, 2007

Cambodia: Saltus And Groom Share Lead After Two Rounds Of Cambodian Open

SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA: America's Bryan Saltus put his new putter to good use Friday (30 Nov) as he shot a 5-under 67 to claim a share of the lead after two rounds of the inaugural Cambodian Open.

Saltus joined first-round leader Adam Groom, with the Australian shooting a 68 on Friday in the $300,000 Asian Tour event.

This is the first Cambodian Open, played on one of just three golf courses in the Southeast Asian nation. It is being played in Siem Reap, the nearest town to the nation's prime tourist attraction, the temple of Angkor Wat.

Groom and Saltus were three strokes in front of their nearest pursuers: America's Anthony Kang, England's Ben St John and Scotland's Simon Dunn in third.

Californian Saltus adopted a new putter for this tournament, and fired off four birdies in the first four holes Friday.

"This new putter is great," Saltus said. " I shot five birdies on the back nine on this course but someone could even shoot a nine-under. The greens are in good shape but the wind could make it difficult over the weekend."

Groom was benefitting from a more laid-back approach upon the advice of his father.

"He told me that I shoot better when Im relaxed on course so I listened to him and the results are showing this week," Groom said.

"I will continue to have a calm approach over the weekend and look forward to a good finish."

Thailand's Chapchai Nirat shot a 71 on Friday to be equal 10th, six strokes off the leaders, as he continues his pursuit of Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Liang Wen-chong.

"Ive been playing back-to-back events and its taking a toll on my game this week," Chapchai said. "I am not driving it well and my putting is not very steady."

The cut was made at 2-over 146. (AP)

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Cambodia urges Myanmar to continue Suu Kyi talks

PHNOM PENH (AFP) - Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday urged Myanmar's junta leaders to continue fledgling talks with detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a government spokesman said.

Hun Sen met with Myanmar's Prime Minister Thein Sein in Phnom Penh and told him that dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi should continue "for the sake of both sides," according to spokesman Khieu Kanharith.

"Prime Minister Hun Sen supports meetings between the Myanmar government and Aung San Suu Kyi and encourages (the ruling generals) to have more meetings for the sake of both sides," he told reporters.

Aung San Suu Kyi held a third meeting in Yangon on November 19 with Myanmar Labour Minister Aung Kyi, who has been appointed by the junta to handle contacts with the 62-year-old Nobel peace prize winner.

Aung Kyi was appointed as a liaison in the wake of global outrage against the regime following its bloody crackdown on peaceful protests in September. At least 15 people were killed and 3,000 arrested in the suppression.

The September violence led the United States and Europe to tighten sanctions against Myanmar, which was already under economic restrictions due to the junta's human rights abuses and the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The pro-democracy icon has been under house arrest for 12 of the last 18 years.

But Cambodia rejected the sanctions on Myanmar, saying such measures were only hurting its people.

"Economic sanctions will never hurt government leaders. They only hurt people," Khieu Kanharith told reporters following the meeting between Hun Sen and Thein Sein, the number four in Myanmar's military.

Thein Sein's three-day official visit, which began Friday, overlaps with that of UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari, who is in Cambodia as part of a regional trip to assess the positions of Myanmar's neighbours after the junta's crackdown.

But Thein Sein and Gambari, the UN secretary general's special representative to Myanmar, did not meet Friday, Khieu Kanharith said.

Cambodia maintains close diplomatic ties with Myanmar, which has been under military rule since 1962 and is one of the most isolated nations in the world.

Hun Sen last visited there in May for trade and tourism talks.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said Thursday sanctions against Myanmar's ruling generals would not force the country towards democracy, following his talks with Gambari.

Hor Namhong said that the international community should instead offer more aid to the impoverished nation.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Cambodia is a member, has come under increasing pressure to deal with its most unruly member since the unrest broke out two months ago.

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