Korean President Lee Myung-bak, left, talks with Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni, right, yesterday at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. [YONHAP]
Southeast Asian country to use Korea as a role model
By Ser Myo-ja (joongangdaily.joins.com)
PHNOM PENH - Leaders of South Korea and Cambodia yesterday signed a series of economic cooperation agreements that include a large-scale forestation project and a mineral resources development program.
President Lee Myung-bak arrived here yesterday morning, beginning a two-day visit. Shortly after arrival, Lee and his wife, Kim Yoon-ok, attended a welcoming ceremony hosted at the Royal Palace by King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia and discussed ties between the two nations.
In the afternoon, Lee held a summit with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, discussing a wide range of cooperation programs to further the two nations’ steadily developing relations. Following normalization of diplomatic ties in 1997, Korea has become Cambodia’s second largest foreign investor and seventh largest trade partner.
Cambodia had first tied the diplomatic knot with South Korea in 1970, but relations were severed in 1975. That’s when the country’s then-communist government formed diplomatic relations with North Korea.
Lee and Hun Sen agreed yesterday that Korea will help Cambodia create a national economic development plan. “Starting next year, a program will be launched for Korea to share its development experience with Cambodia,” said Kim Eun-hye, Lee’s spokeswoman. “As a part of the program, we will provide consulting services for Cambodia to establish its economic policies. It’s like Cambodia will use Korea’s model as its standard to create a national development plan.”
Kim said Korea will play the role of incubator for the Southeast Asian country’s development. Korea will help Cambodia open a stock exchange by the end of next year, while Cambodia’s real estate system research team has already visited Korea, she said.
The two leaders have maintained a close personal relationship. In 2000, the Cambodian prime minister made Lee his foreign economic adviser following a series of development consultations. Lee kept the post until he took the presidential office last year.
Lee and Hun Sen also witnessed the signing of a series of bilateral agreements. The two countries’ forestry authorities signed a memorandum of understanding in which Cambodia will provide 200,000 hectares of land for Korea’s forestation project. The planned site is slightly larger than Jeju Island.
“The program will restore forests and create jobs in Cambodia,” Kim said. “And Korean companies investing in the program will secure carbon dioxide emission rights and lumber.”
Kim said the government aims at securing a million hectares of forestation sites around the world by 2050. Including yesterday’s agreement, about 90 percent of that goal has been achieved, she noted.
The Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources and Cambodia’s Ministry of Industry Mines and Energy also signed an agreement for a joint research and development program. “This gives Korean companies