As King Prepares to Return, Hun Sen Leaves for S Korea

Both King Norodom Sihanouk and Prime Minister Hun Sen are traveling early this week so they can be home in time for Khmer New Year celebrations, which begin Friday.

The King plans to return from China Wednesday, according to Kung Hunthearith, executive assistant to Prince Norodom Sirivudh, who is the King’s half-brother. The King left for China on Feb 21 for a routine medical checkup.

The Chinese official news agency Xinhua said the King and Queen Monineath Sihanouk met Wednesday with Li Peng, chairman of the standing committee of the National People’s Congress of China. Li Peng told the King that China stands ready to fulfill the goals set forth in a joint declaration on bilateral cooperation the two countries signed last year.

On the King’s agenda when he returns is a decision on whether to sign the draft law to try former Khmer Rouge leaders. The National Assembly, which convenes April 18, must amend articles in the law which the Constitutional Council decided violate the constitution. After the National Assembly and Senate approve the amended law, it goes to the King for his signature.

Hun Sen will leave this morning for a three-day trip to South Korea, returning Wednesday. His adviser Om Yentieng said the visit will include a stop at a military academy in Seoul. Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong and Minister of Cabinet Sok An will accompany Hun Sen and are expected to sign several bilateral agreements.

Om Yentieng said the prime minister will specifically ask for South Korea’s help on information technology and road construction projects. After a meeting last month with South Korean Ambassador Lee Wun Hyong, Hun Sen said he would also look to the South Koreans for assistance in developing technical education and setting up a response system for natural emergencies such as flooding.

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