South Korea to Approve $200M in New Loans to Cambodia

South Korea will on Wednesday sign off on a four-year deal worth $200 million in new loans to Cambodia, meant for a host of road repairs and a new dam in Battambang province, the Foreign Affairs Ministry announced Friday.

In a statement, it said Prime Minister Hun Sen and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong would both be on hand to sign the deal with South Korean Ambassador Kim Han-soo.

It said the money would go toward rehabilitating National Roads 2, 22 and 48, along with a number of rural roads across the country, and the construction of the Dauntri Multipurpose Dam “between Battambang and Pursat provinces.”

South Korean Embassy first secretary Lee Yoon-seok said the loans would come from the Export-Import Bank of Korea and that the deal will replace the four-year package of loans that expired last year.

“According [to] this agreement, the Korean government is committed to provide $200 million [decided], but it will be up to dialogue with Cambodian government,” he said in an email.

Mr. Lee could not immediately provide details about the dam and officials at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy either said they did not know about the project or declined to comment.

According to a 2009 report on the country’s energy sector from NGOs citing government data, Korean firms were studying the possibility of two dams in Battambang with a combined capacity of 60 MW.

This week’s deal comes despite a request from opposition lawmakers last month that Cambodia’s foreign donors stop signing agreements with the current government. They said the government was illegitimate since recently ejecting all of them from the National Assembly over a technicality, and urged donors to at least wait until a new “legitimate” Assembly was in place after the July 28 national election.

Mr. Lee said he did not know whether South Korea had received the opposition’s request and declined to comment further.

“What I can tell you is that this agreement is not initiated by political interests,” he said. “As you can see…we should have signed this arrangement earlier. It has long been prepared.”

(Additional reporting by Aun Pheap)

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