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Leaders bring pledges of support from Japan

JAPAN has pledged US$5.5 billion in loans and grants to the five Mekong River nations, including Cambodia, Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong said Sunday.

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday as Cambodian officials returned from this weekend’s Mekong-Japan summit in Tokyo, Hor Namhong did not say how much money would go to Cambodia, though he said it would be spent on new infrastructure projects over the course of three years.

“Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam will receive more money from Japan than Thailand and Myanmar,” Hor Namhong said, without specifying exact figures.

Hor Namhong said the funds from Japan, Cambodia’s largest donor, would help renovate the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port as well as fund the construction of the Neak Loeung Bridge, which would span the Mekong River 60 kilometres east of the capital.

The money will also be used for school-building projects and mine-clearance work in Cambodia, Hor Namhong said.

In addition, Japan promised to host 30,000 youths from Mekong countries each year to promote cultural exchange.

Following the conclusion of the summit Saturday, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said the Mekong region was a “priority area” for Japan’s development assistance.

Leaders at the summit also agreed on an action plan to promote development and fight climate change, Hor Namhong said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP

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