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Cambodia rejects Thai tender of road funds

CAMBODIAN officials said yesterday that they would reject US$41.2 million in funding for a road project that Thailand reportedly pledged to resume last week as part of an effort to warm relations between the two countries.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said Cambodia would not accept the loan, as it had already financed the road project independently.

“We have not requested this loan, and we don’t need this money,” Koy Kuong said. “We are using our own budget to construct this road and the project is well under way.”

Koy Kuong’s comments yesterday marked a change in tone from his remarks on the Thai loans the previous day; when asked about the subject on Sunday, he said Cambodia “welcomes all forms of donations without conditions attached”.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaungsuban said last week that the aid, originally promised last August to extend National Road 68 up to the Thai border in Oddar Meanchey province, would be resumed in view of the countries now-normalised diplomatic relations, the Bangkok Post reported.

In November, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the cancellation of all Thai grants and loans in the diplomatic spat that ensued following Cambodia’s now-terminated appointment of fugitive former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as an economics adviser.

Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said yesterday that he was unaware of Cambodia’s position on the funding, but that Thailand “stands ready to promote further bilateral cooperation with Cambodia”.

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