PM Brings Home Aid From China

Prime Minister Hun Sen and his delegation returned to Cambodia on Sunday after a six-day visit to China, bringing back promises of tall buildings, new government buildings and plenty of business.

A beaming Hun Sen, who visited Beijing, Shanghai and Hainan and Guangzhou provinces during his tour, was welcomed by dozens of government and military officials at Phnom Penh International Airport on Sunday morning. He did not speak to reporters.

During his trip, the prime minister signed some 16 agreements with the Chinese government for aid and loans to Cambodia, said Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, who was part of the delegation, during a news briefing after his arrival.

In addition, Cambodia signed a number of contracts with private Chinese companies that promised to build a golf club in Siem Reap, a 10-story “tallest building in Cambodia” in Phnom Penh, and a large textiles plant in Siha­noukville, he said.

“The prime minister’s delegation visit is the first time that [we] have signed a vast agreement with China,” Hor Namhong said. “This visit is the strategic future to develop the country.”

The Chinese government agreed to help construct a new Council of Ministers building to replace the existing one on Rus­sian Boulevard, Hor Nam­hong said. A study will be conducted to determine how much it will cost, he said, without providing further details of the plans.

China also pledged to donate backhoes and tractors to repair roads and improve irrigation, which will enable farmers to plant rice twice a year instead of only once a year, he said.

China also plans to send researchers here to assess Cambodia’s untapped underground mineral resources, draw plans to attract more tourists, and send a sports delegation to train Cambodian athletes “to get more gold and silver medals in Cambodia,” Hor Namhong said.

Cambodia will borrow nearly $500,000 more from China to help construct National Route 7 from Kratie province to the Lao border. It will also borrow about $1.8 million for the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications to develop telecommunications in rural areas. And Cambodia will borrow an undisclosed amount of money to buy ships that will be used to “combat drug trafficking and sea crimes,” Hor Namhong said.

He did not mention whether Hun Sen met with Funcinpec Secretary-General Prince Noro­dom Sirivudh, who was scheduled to attend the same Boao economic forum in Hainan province on Saturday. Nor did he mention the impact of the ongoing political deadlock on Cambodia’s new bilateral agreements with China.

Repeated calls to Funcinpec spokesman Kassie Neou were unsuccessful Sunday, while calls made to CPP spokesman Khieu Kanharith went unanswered.

Before Prince Sirivudh left for China last week, Kassie Neou said he would return to Phnom Penh today or Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Funcinpec officials said Sunday their party president Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who is in France, would return in early May.

Sam Rainsy Party officials last week said Sam Rainsy, who is also in France, would return to Phnom Penh later this week.

CPP and Funcinpec officials are scheduled to resume their negotiations on forming a new government on Wednesday.

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