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PMs discuss investment, trade, trafficking

Bilateral trade and human trafficking were on the agenda for a meeting between Malyasian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen when the two leaders briefly met in Phnom Penh on Monday.

Mr Abdullah, who became leader in October, made the visit as part of his goodwill tour of Southeast Asia. Under ASEAN rules, new prime ministers are obliged to visit the leaders of other member countries.

The Malaysian delegation was welcomed at Phnom Penh International airport by Hun Sen and high ranking officials of the royal government. The two prime ministers then met at the Council of Ministers where they discussed investment opportunities and ways to combat human trafficking.

During the 90 minute meeting, Hun Sen proposed five points for further development of the bilateral relationship. These included encouraging more Malaysian investors to Cambodia; improving the tourism sector with an open skies policy, including direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Siem Reap; Malaysian support for Cambodia's bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 2006-2007; cooperation to eliminate trafficking of females between Cambodia and Malaysia; and an export arrangement for 142 types of goods to Malaysia.

In response, Mr Abdullah praised the achievement of democracy, peace and stability in Cambodia and promised that Malaysian business partners would continue to accept Cambodian laborers to work in Malaysia.

"I have given an undertaking to Samdech Hun Sen that I would like to encourage Malaysian businessmen to come to Cambodia to invest more," he said. " We are committed to helping Cambodia to develop its economy." He said Malaysia would support Cambodia's bid for membership of the UN Security Council.

To clamp down on sex trafficking, Hun Sen proposed punishing perpetrators and returning victims to Cambodia through the Cambodian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Mr Abdullah concurred; however, he said he wanted a Malaysian court to first "investigate who the victims were and who was responsible in each case".

The Malaysian PM will also discuss Hun Sen's proposal to export more goods to Malaysia with his Commerce Minister. Hun Sen said it was important to have a trading balance, as currently Cambodia imports more goods than it exports.

Discussions on a railway project connecting Ochrov, Banteay Meanchey to Sisophon using Malaysian materials are still underway. Foreign Ministers of both countries will schedule a meeting to discuss the progress.

Mr Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was satisfied with the outcome of the meeting, telling reporters: "We have had a successful bilateral meeting, even though my visit to Cambodia has been very short".

After the meeting, Mr Abdullah met with members of the Malaysian community at Sunway Hotel, followed by a joint dinner with Hun Sen at Le Royal Hotel.

Mr Abdullah has also invited Hun Sen to visit Malaysia in the future.

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