24 Oct 2009

Korea offers Cambodia more development aid

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Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen, right, chats with President Lee Myung-bak, center, through a translator
during a tour of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, 143 miles northwest of Phnom Penh,
SIEM REAP, Cambodia - Korea will provide a further $9.25 million to Cambodia in new development assistance in 2010 and 2011 to fund a road construction project in Siem Reap, best known for its proximity to Angkor Wat, according to the Blue House.

Korea gave $5.9 million between 2005 and 2009 to build the road in an effort to help conserve the cultural heritage site.

The Korea Ring Road will help disperse traffic in the area, contributing to protecting the 800-year-old temples, the Blue House said in a press release.

Following a visit to Angkor Wat to discuss the road project and cultural preservation, Lee departed for Hua Hin, Thailand, yesterday to attend a series of regional summits.

Today and tomorrow, Lee will attend the Korea-Asean summit and the Asean Plus Three summit where leaders of 10 Southeast Asian nations, China and Japan will join him.

In the regional summits, Lee will seek the participating leaders’ support to resolve North Korea’s nuclear crisis, the Blue House said. Measures to fight climate change and promote green growth will also be addressed.

After the Asean Plus Three summit, the leaders are expected to adopt a statement on food security and bio energy development cooperation.

Tomorrow, the South Korean president will also attend the annual East Asia summit, in which the leaders of the Asean Plus Three and India, Australia and New Zealand will sit down to discuss regional and global issues.

According to the Blue House, the Lee administration will concentrate its efforts on cementing trust between Korea and Asean.

During a cabinet workshop last Sunday, Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said Korea will use the Group of 20 summit that it will host in November next year as an opportunity to promote Lee’s New Asia Initiative, the Blue House has said.

Lee announced a new diplomatic initiative to engage Asia-Pacific nations in March, marking a shift in focus for Seoul’s foreign policy, from the four global powers to relations with its regional neighbors.

Lee said Seoul’s foreign policy concentration on Washington, Tokyo, Beijing and Moscow last year was successful and that the time had come to reach out to countries in the region.

Under his “New Asia Initiative,” Lee’s goal is to speak for Asian nations in the international community. According to the Blue House, Korea seeks to cooperate with Asia-Pacific neighbors while playing a leading role in resolving transnational tasks such as the financial crisis and climate change. Seoul will focus on diplomacy to encourage free trade and investment within the region.

According to the Blue House, Lee’s initiative gained momentum over the past seven months after he attended the Asean Plus Three summit in Thailand in April, visited Central Asia in May and hosted the Korea-Asean special summit in June.

For stronger ties with Asean, Lee has also promised to increase the Korea-Asean cooperative fund from the annual $3 million to $5 million after 2010.

Korea’s official development assistance toward Asean nations will be increased from $155 million of last year to $395 million by 2015.

“The New Asia Initiative is also in line with President Lee’s national vision of a greater, global Korea,” Lee Dong-kwan, Lee’s senior secretary for public affairs, has said.

“The president has an idea of highlighting Asia’s role and capability in the new international order to be formed in the post-global financial crisis era. And the New Asia Initiative is the product of President Lee’s vision.”

The Asean summits in Thailand later this week and the APEC summit in Singapore next month will be used as key opportunities to promote Lee’s vision, the Blue House said.

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