Governments of South Korea, Iran, Make Renewed Aid Pledges

The South Korean government has agreed to provide Cambodia with $21 million in development aid grants while the Iranian government has promised a number of scholarships to study oil extraction, Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said Monday.

Mr. Kuong said that Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong met with South Korean Ambassador Kim Han-soo on Monday and signed off on the framework for the provision of aid to Cambodia this year that will give money to four separate development projects.

The first grant will give $8 million for a project in Kompong Speu province that will follow the South Korean government’s Saemaul Undong—or “New Community”—approach to developing farming communities that is based on traditional Korean communalism.

A further $2.5 million will be provided for the development of the Cambodian Securities Exchange (CSX), a 45 percent share of which is owned by the Seoul-based Korea Exchange, Mr. Kuong said.

The CSX, which was created in July 2011, still lists only the stock of a single company. By December 2012, it had closed its physical trading floor due to what an official said was high operating costs.

A third grant from South Korea will provide $5 million to expand health facilities in Kandal province. The fourth will give $5.5 million to deepen the Mekong River between Phnom Penh and Kratie province.

“In the name of the Cambodian government, the deputy prime minister [Mr. Namhong] deeply thanks the Korean government that has granted the aid,” Mr. Kuong said at a press conference.

Mr. Kuong added that South Korea was still considering a request for a $63 million soft loan to improve portions of National Road 2 between Takeo province and Takhmao City in Kandal province.

Mr. Namhong on Monday also met with Hossein Alvandi Behineh, the Iranian ambassador to Vietnam who also covers Cambodia.

“The Iranian ambassador said that the Iranian Oil Minister has decided to give a number of scholarships for Cambodian officials to study oil technology in Iran,” Mr. Kuong said after the meeting.

“The deputy prime minister welcomed and said thank you for this issue because it is necessary that we study about this problem.”

A consortium led by U.S. oil giant Chevron in 2005 carried out Cambodia’s first offshore oil exploration but the process to begin extraction has since been stalled due to disagreement on future taxation.

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