Hor Namhong returns from Iran

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong returned yesterday from a visit this week to Iran, where he met with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and was expected to sign an agreement on petroleum cooperation between the two countries.

Government officials yesterday were once again unable to confirm Iranian media reports that Mr Namhong condemned international sanctions intended to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Reached before Mr Namhong’s arrival yesterday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said he would not have details on the two-day trip until after Mr Namhong’s return. Mr Kuong could not be reached by telephone after the foreign minister touched down, though he said earlier that he would be available.

Mr Namhong was seen leaving Phnom Penh International Airport yesterday with a group of officials that included Cambodian National Petroleum Authority Vice Chairman Ho Vichet. The government hopes to begin producing oil in the much-feted offshore Block A by the end of 2012, and Mr Namhong’s trip was officially described as a way to exchange experience on oil production.

The Iranian Student News Agency reported yesterday that Cambodian and Iranian officials inked agreements on lifting visa requirements during the trip, while the two sides also “pledged to form a joint foreign ministry advisory committee.”

The semi-official Fars News Agency reported that Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani “stressed the peaceful nature of the country’s nuclear program” at a meeting with Mr Namhong.

The agency said the Cambodian foreign minister “mentioned his full support for the righteous Palestinian cause and for Iran’s absolute right to have full access to the entire cycle of the nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.”

“My country has always been opposed to the interference of the United States in other countries’ internal affairs,” Mr Namhong is quoted as saying.

A spokesman for the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Wednesday said that Cambodia should support June’s UN Security Council resolution, which curtails purchases and trade by the Iranian agency in control of the country’s nuclear program.


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