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US trade delegation first in 18 years

A United States trade delegation from Washington State has been in Cambodia to study

investment opportunities and wants to establish sister city ties between Seattle

and Sihanoukville, a senior official said.

The trade delegation was the first from the United States to visit Cambodia since

the US reopened a diplomatic mission in Cambodia at the end of 1991, following an

18-year hiatus caused by war and communist rule.

"Please know that Cambodia is open for business. We would like to welcome American

investors in Cambodia in any fields," Industry, Mines and Energy Minister Pou

Sothirak told the 20-member delegation on Oct 2.

He said the delegation had asked First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh about

setting up a sister city relationship between Seattle and Sihanoukville.

"The First Prime Minister has given them a positive green light pending more

assessment."

Southirak said such an arrangement would help improve cultural and social relationships,

as well as business ties.

Velma Veloria, a member of the delegation which spent five days in Cambodia, said

there were so many trade opportunities that "it's difficult to focus on which

ones to address."

She suggested working with Cambodian officials to prepare a "needs assessment"

and identify potential partners from Washington and Cambodia for joint venture businesses.

Southirak later said that talks had focussed on collaboration in industry, small

business and higher education.

Two-way trade between Cambodia and the United States was worth less than $10 million

last year, according to the US Embassy in Phnom Penh.

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