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Program Bridges Intellectuals, Stars to Cambodia

Nobel laureates and some of the world's best-known icons are going to give lectures and perform in Cambodia as part of third ASEAN Bridges, organized by International Peace Foundation.

Uwe Morawetz, chairman of the foundation and an organizer of the event, will travel to Cambodia later this month to discuss the arrangements of the trips of a number of world famous figures.

These include Aaron Ciechanover, 2004 Nobel laureate for Chemistry; Jackie Chan, actor; Oliver Stone, film director; David Gross, 2004 Nobel laureate for physics; Eric Maskin, 2007 Nobel Laureate for economics; Torsten Wiesel, 1981 Nobel laureate for medicine; Vladimir Ashkenazy, classical pianist; Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, 2008 Nobel laureate for medicine; and Jose Ramos-Horta, 1996 Nobel laureate for Peace and president of East Timor.

Since this is the first time for most of the world famous icons to visit Cambodia, Morawetz said he believes it is a good opportunity for both Cambodia and the guests to learn from each other for the cause of peace.

The guests will be visiting Cambodia one by one from November 2009 through April 2010. They are scheduled to meet with country's highest-ranking figures, include King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen, as well as academics and students.

"It's a forward looking program on education because we believe the young generation is the future," Morawetzs told VOA Khmer. "I think this program can be an inspiration for the young people in Cambodia and also an inspiration for Nobel laureates, because they've never been to Cambodia. I think as they are very famous people, they will carry the voice of Cambodia into the world, so that hopefully the world get a clearer picture and more holistic picture about Cambodia than only being associated with the Khmer Rouge or with Angkor Wat."

Koem Oeun, deputy director-general of Higher Education Department of Cambodian Ministry of Education, told VOA Khmer by phone that the visit would benefit Cambodia in a number of ways

"First, we will get good experience and special expertise brought in by those icons to share with us, including our king, prime minister, leaders in various higher education institutions, professors, and especially students," he said. "Second, they can be our effective ambassadors, who can take with them facts of Cambodian society to the world. And third, I hope there will be better cooperation between Cambodia and the rest of the world, to create projects for future development in Cambodia."

Om Romny, director of Institute of Technology of Cambodia, told VOA Khmer by the phone that his institute will be honored to have a dialogue with Ciechanover.

"When he is here, Cambodian professors, intellectuals, and students will have a chance to hear his achievements and findings of his research," Om Romny said. "They can relate what they have learned to the Nobel laureate's research findings and expertise. Our institute is honored to receive such an outstanding Nobel laureate."

Bridges program is initiated by International Peace Foundation based in Vienna of Austria. In Southeast Asia, the International Peace Foundation has organized programs in Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia.