The Russian Embassy declined to comment on reports that negotiators from Russia were to begin bilateral trade talks with Cambodia on Wednesday.
The Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported Wednesday that the country’s chief trade negotiator, Maxim Medvedkov, was to begin talks with Cambodian officials in Phnom Penh today as part of Russia’s bid to join the World Trade Organization.
A Russian Embassy official who asked not to be named said that the Ministry of Commerce had invited Russia to engage in talks, but referred all other questions to the ministry.
Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh could not be reached for comment Wednesday, nor could government spokesman Khieu Kanharith.
Russia, which began its WTO accession efforts back in 1993, is the only major world economic power not in the world trade body. Any WTO member can request a bilateral trade agreement with an applicant.
According to RIA Novosti, Russia just completed a round of trade talks with the WTO’s newest member, Vietnam, and has only four more member nations—including Cambodia—with which to sign bilateral agreements.
Issues that will likely be on the table for these talks will be oil exploration, improved transport links and Cambodia’s debt to Russia, which National Assembly President Heng Samrin put at $1.5 billion earlier this year.
Koam Kosal, adviser to Heng Samrin, said that the National Assembly president had already asked Russia to forgive Cambodia’s debt, but has not yet received a response.