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Tue 13 Jan 2009 02:08 PM

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Cambodian PM makes first Middle East visit

Hun Sen's visit to Kuwait aims at expanding business and trade ties in Gulf.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has departed for oil-rich Kuwait in his first-ever visit to the Middle East, aimed at expanding business and trade ties.Hun Sen was accompanied by a number of high-ranking government officials and business people as he left on the four-day trip on a plane provided by Kuwait.

"This visit will lead to the development in the future between Cambodia and Kuwait, and between Cambodia and other countries in the Middle East," Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters.

During the visit, officials are scheduled to sign agreements on Kuwaiti technical aid to build a hydro-power plant, irrigation systems and roads in the impoverished Southeast Asian nation, the minister said.

Officials will also agree to direct flights between the two nations to boost tourism, he said.

Hor Namhong, who is accompanying Hun Sen, said the premier would also hold discussions about rice, trade exchange and investments.

Kuwaiti premier Sheikh Nasser Mohammed al-Ahmed al-Sabah visited Cambodia and inked trade deals last August, while Phnom Penh is also looking into land-lease agreements with Kuwait.

Kuwait granted Cambodia a 546-million-dollar agricultural loan in August in return for crop production.

Impoverished Cambodia has climbed back from decades of civil unrest to emerge as one of the region's most vibrant economies, attracting increasing foreign investment.

Cambodian officials have also said they hope Middle East governments will help train local experts on the petroleum industry, which is starting to take root after the discovery of offshore deposits.

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