July 2, 2011

Cambodia, France pledge to promote economic, political ties


PHNOM PENH -- Cambodia and France on Saturday pledged to strengthen and expand relations and cooperation on economics and politics for the interests of the two peoples.

During a one-hour meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, visiting French Prime Minister Francois Fillon highly evaluated the good relations and cooperation with Cambodia in all sectors, especially in politics, trade and investments, Srey Thamrong, minister attached to Prime Minister Hun Sen, told reporters after the meeting.

"Prime Minister Francois Fillon has seen the potentials in Cambodia's agriculture, especially rice production and France is going to invest about 29 million U.S. dollars next year for a sophisticated rice mill in order to process rice with international standard for exports,"he said.

Fillon has asked Hun Sen to continue to support French investors in Cambodia, especially in the fields of oil and gas exploration as well as airports.

Since 2004, France's direct investments in Cambodia worth 668 million U.S. dollars in the sectors of construction, real estates, oil and gas exploration, airports, hotels, small and medium enterprises, transports, IT and electronics, while Cambodia's investments in France worth 14.5 million U.S. dollars in trade and real estate, according to the statistics released from the Embassy of France to Cambodia.

During the meeting, the two Prime Ministers have also vowed to accelerate the two-way trade volume between the two countries.

Last year, Cambodia and France trade value mounted to 228 million U.S. dollars. Of the figure, France's exports to Cambodia were 66.8 million U.S. dollars and Cambodia's exports to France were 161.2 million U.S. dollars. Cambodia's main products to France were garments, foot-wears and rice.

On the political side, Ouch Borith, secretary of state for the ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation, said that Fillon has promised to fully support Cambodia for the non- permanent member of the United Nations Security Coucil.

Meanwhile, Hun Sen thanked France for supporting Cambodia in health, education, and ancient temple restoration and asked France to continue to help Cambodia in human resources and legal and judicial reforms.

He also welcomed France's plan to invest in rice mill as it is on the right target that Cambodia is focusing on.

Hun Sen promised to support French investors here in order to boost the development of Cambodia and to build closer relations between Cambodia and France.

Francois Fillon arrived in Phnom Penh on Saturday for a two-day visit, marking the first visit by French top leader to this country in nearly two decades. The last French leader visiting Cambodia was former President Francois Mitterrand in 1993.

During the visit, Fillon was also received in royal audience by King Norodom Sihamoni and King Father Norodom Sihanouk.

Fillon and King Norodom Sihamoni will attend the closing ceremony on the completed restoration of Baphuon Temple, one of Angkor's oldest ruins, and will visit Angkor Temple in Siem Reap province on July 3.

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