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Cambodia Preps for Oil Agreement With Iran

Cambodia is preparing a high-level delegation to visit Iran next week, where they expect to sign an agreement on petroleum cooperation, among others.

Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong told VOA Khmer Friday the petroleum agreement would allow Iranian oil experts to provide technical assitance to Cambodia.

The delegation will be led by Foreign Minisgter Hor Namhong and will include Ho Vichit, vice chairman of the National Petroleum Authority, a ministry statement said.

Cambodia expects to see oil flowing from offshore blocs in 2012, Koy Kuong said, and Iran is one of the largest producers of oil in the world.

The visit will improve diplomatic relations between the two countries, as well as promoting trade, tourism and investment, he said.

The trip, scheduled for Aug. 11 and Aug. 12, could also mean positive developments for Cambodia's Muslim community, said Sman Teath, a Muslim and deputy director of the National Assembly's finance committee.

Cambodia has a population of nearly half a million Muslims, many of whom remain in poverty after devastating treatment at the hands of the Khmer Rouge.

Sos Mos Sin, head of the Cambodian-Muslim Student Association, said the community needs trade and investment opportunities as well as humanitarian assistance from Iran.

“We want Iranian companies to invest in Cambodia, boosting economic growth and development for poverty reduction,” he said.

There are so far no plans for Iranian businesses to come here, Koy Kuong said.

Cambodia has had diplomatic relations with Iran since 1992, but it communicates with the country through its embassy in Hanoi.

Mohsen Kohkan, head of the Iran-Cambodia Parliamentary Friendship Group, who visited Cambodia in June, asked Cambodia to establish an Embassy in Iran. The Iranian Assembly has been encouraging its government to appoint an ambassador to Cambodia.