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(LEAD) Leaders of S. Korea, Cambodia agree to expand cooperation, business ties

All Headlines 18:00 October 22, 2009

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead paras; UPDATES with outcome of the summit)
By Byun Duk-kun

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen agreed to boost ties between their nations in a summit here Thursday, where they also witnessed the signing of agreements on economic and diplomatic cooperation.

"President Lee revealed Korea's plans to expand its official development aid to Cambodia as part of its New Asia Initiative, as well as its support for the (Cambodia's) green growth project through the East Asia Climate Partnership," the South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said.

The Cambodian prime minister expressed deep gratitude for Seoul's support, the office said in a press release.

Lee arrived here earlier Thursday on a two-day state visit. He is currently on a three-nation tour through Southeast Asia that earlier took him to Vietnam.

In a deal signed on the sidelines of Thursday's summit, Seoul also agreed to provide US$200 million in development loans to Cambodia from 2009 to 2012.

"The president noted the bilateral relationship between the two countries has rapidly developed over the past 12 years since they reestablished diplomatic ties in 1997 and said the exchange of visits this year with Prime Minister Hun Sen was a clear example of the close relationship between the two," Cheong Wa Dae said.

Lee and the Cambodian prime minister held their first bilateral summit in Seoul in June when Hun Sen visited South Korea for a special Korea-ASEAN summit.

Bilateral trade between the countries increased by six-fold from $50 million in 1997 to over $300 million last year while South Korea's direct investment in Cambodia jumped 75 times during the same period from $33 million to nearly $2.5 billion, according to Cheong Wa Dae.

Lee welcomed the expansion of economic ties between the countries, but noted South Korean businesses here were beginning to face more difficulties with a large increase of companies coming to the country.

The Cambodian prime minister said his government will work to find measures that will help resolve problems facing the South Korean companies, it said.

"The leaders also welcomed the signing of an extradition agreement on the sidelines of their summit, noting it will lead to a significant expansion of cooperation in the legal sector," the press release said.

Both Lee and Hun Sen will leave for Thailand Saturday for the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that will also involve the leaders of Japan and China.


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