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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Vietnamese PM to attend GMS summit in Laos late March

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung will attend the 3rd Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) Summit slated for March 30-31 in Laos, said a Vietnamese spokesman on Thursday.

The summit with theme of "Enhancement of Competitiveness via Greater Connectivity" will focus its discussion on strengthening transport connectivity and boosting cooperation between public and private sectors to develop trade and investment in the GMS, Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Dung said at a regular press briefing.

Participants to the summit will also touch upon issues on training human resources to improve the competitiveness, implementing sustainable environment management and enhancing cooperation for GMS development.

During the event, leaders from GMS members -- Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar and China will have dialogues with youths and businesspeople, he said.

The 1st GMS Summit was held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 2002, and the 2nd summit in Kunming, China in 2005.

The GMS was established in 1992 to promote economic and social development, irrigation and cooperation within the six Mekong countries.

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Cambodian Tribunal Rules on Appeal

By Ker Munthit

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia's genocide tribunal rejected an appeal Thursday by a former Khmer Rouge leader against his pre-trial detention on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The five-judge panel ruled that Nuon Chea, the Khmer Rouge's former ideologist, must remain in custody ahead of trials scheduled to begin later this year.

Nuon Chea faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He has been detained since Sept. 19 by Cambodia's U.N.-backed court. Nuon Chea is one of five former Khmer Rouge leaders detained for their involvement in the group's brutal 1975-79 rule.

The Khmer Rouge's radical policies caused the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people from starvation, diseases, overwork and execution.

Nuon Chea, 81, has denied any guilt, saying he is not a "cruel" man.

In their detention order last year, the tribunal's investigating judges charged him with involvement in crimes including "murder, torture, imprisonment, persecution, extermination, deportation, forcible transfer, enslavement and other inhumane acts."

They said Nuon Chea faces life imprisonment if convicted and that the detention was necessary to prevent him from pressuring witnesses, destroying evidence and escaping.

Nuon Chea's own safety could also be at risk, if he were released, they said.

Nuon Chea has argued that the judges did not have sufficient grounds to detain him and called himself "a patriot and not a coward" trying to run away.

In December, the judges ruled against a similar appeal by Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, who headed the Khmer Rouge's notorious S-21 prison and torture center.

The other three defendants are Ieng Sary, the former Khmer Rouge foreign minister, his wife Ieng Thirith, who was the minister for social affairs, and Khieu Samphan, the former Khmer Rouge head of state.
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Cambodia unveils new hospital for major-shot clients

PHNOM PENH, March 20 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia here on Thursday unveiled the Royal Ratanak Hospital to provide health services at international standard to rich Cambodians as well as foreigners.

Prasert Prasarttong Osoth, owner of the Bangkok Airways and the Bangkok Dusit Medical Service, altogether invested about 8.5 million U.S. dollars in building the hospital, said Prime Minister Hun Sen at the opening ceremony.

It will help VIP clients reduce payment, as they don't have to go to Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and other countries to see doctors any more, said Hun Sen. "They will turn to use local health services as they trust this hospital," he said.

Thai investor Prasert said at the ceremony that the economic growth and development of Cambodia urge business people to invest more in the health service sector.

The Royal Ratanak Hospital will cooperate with the Bangkok Dusit Medical Services and it is also a sister hospital to the Royal International Hospital in Siem Reap, he said.

The six-floor hospital will become a main emergency referral center for local Cambodians, foreign tourists and other residents, he added.

Sat Soeurn, representative of the Royal Ratanak Hospital and wife of Tea Bahn, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense, said that the staff members are trying to provide a trustworthy alternative choice for the local patients who used to spend expensively for their treatment and accommodation in foreign countries.

The hospital will become a leading health sanitation center in Cambodia, she added.

According to official statistics, there are over 1,100 medical units, including major hospitals, all over the country. An average of some 5,000 Cambodians can share one doctor.
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