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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Ground-breaking held for Phnom Penh's tallest skyscraper

Construction is set to begin on Cambodia’s tallest building as officials broke ground on the 52-story International Finance Complex that will dominate the skyline of the Kingdom's low-slung capital after its completion in 2012.

The $1 billion IFC Phnom Penh project will include a main office tower surrounded by several smaller glass-and-steel structures, making it the latest in a string of mega-projects set to transform the city’s urban landscape in the next decade.

“The IFC Phnom Penh project [is] a symbol of Cambodia’s recent economic growth and will become a new landmark of Phnom Penh,” said Kevin Kim, CEO and President of GS Engineering & Construction, the project’s South Korean developer, at the June 18 groundbreaking ceremony at the building site on the Bassac River.

“Cambodia is the most dynamic and fastest growing country in Southeast Asia, and we want to participate in and contribute to that growth,” Kim said.

South Korean Ambassador to Cambodia Shin Hyun Suk added that the project was likely to further strengthen ties between Cambodia and South Korea, already the second leading source of foreign investment in the Kingdom after China.

“I am pleased to note that in Cambodia’s recent development, South Korea has been a key partner,” Shin told the ceremony, praising the government’s achievement in fostering political and economic stability. “The 52-story IFC building will stand as a symbol of the continuing progress in Cambodia.”

When completed, the IFC skyscraper will be the tallest building in Cambodia, eclipsing the 42-story Gold Tower 42 project, which is also Korean financed, as well as other residential and commercial towers currently planned or under construction around the capital.

In addition to offices, the IFC project will include 275 serviced apartments, long-term luxury housing, an international school and a convention center.
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Cambodia to expand rubber exports

PHNOM PENH (Xinhua): Cambodia will export some 50,000 tonnes of dried rubber to the international market over the next year, a conspicuous rise over the current 30,000 tonnes a year, national media said Tuesday.

"We hope that Cambodia's exports of dried rubber will continue to rise as the new rubber trees which have been planted over the past five years under an expansion project are tapped for resin," Ly Phalla, general director of the General Directorate of Rubber Plantation, was quoted by English-Khmer language newspaper the Mekong Times as saying.

"International market demands for rubber and rising rubber prices will be an incentive for Cambodia to step up rubber exports, " he added. Dried rubber now sells 3,310 U.S. dollars per ton in Cambodia, up from 2,800 U.S. dollars last year.

Cambodia began rubber cultivation in the 1920s during the French colonial era but exports dwindled in the 1970s as the country was ravaged by civil wars.

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Thai government suspends UNESCO temple deal with Cambodia

BANGKOK (AFP) — Thailand's government will not appeal a ruling that suspended its endorsement of Cambodia's bid to see a disputed Hindu temple granted World Heritage status, the foreign minister said Tuesday.

Despite a long-standing territorial dispute over the 11th century Preah Vihear temple site, the Thai cabinet voted two weeks ago to support its neighbour's application at a UNESCO meeting in Canada this week.

But anti-government protesters succeeded in obtaining an injunction last weekend from the Central Administrative Court to annul the joint communique.

"We have resolved to comply with the court's decision. We will suspend the joint communique and keep Cambodia informed," Thai foreign minister Noppadon Pattama told reporters after a weekly cabinet meeting.

Our prime minister has already told Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen that we will send them an official letter," Noppadon said.

The government would seek further legal advice, Somchai Wongsawat, deputy prime minister told AFP.

"We will wait for advice from the Council of State, which I expect to seek in next week's meeting," Somchai said.

Last week Cambodia closed the temple after more than 100 Thais marched to the compound to protest the deal.

Cambodia had planned to present the joint communique as part of its application to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to have the site listed to attract more tourists.

Cambodia last year attempted to have the ancient Hindu temple, perched on a mountaintop on the Thai-Cambodia border, listed by UNESCO. But that effort failed, amid rumours Thailand had blocked the deal.

Cambodia began seeking World Heritage status for the temple, which has long plagued relations between the two countries, nearly six years ago.

Both countries have historically laid claim to the site, which sits on Cambodian soil but can only be easily accessed from Thailand.

Former Cambodian king Norodom Sihanouk took Thailand to the World Court in 1962 over the two countries' claim to Preah Vihear. The court ruled the temple belonged to Cambodia.
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