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North Koreans talk rice

North Koreans talk rice

NORTH Korea aims to import rice from Cambodia, as well as explore for mineral resources, officials said yesterday.

High-ranking officials from Pyongyang met with their Cambodian counterparts in Phnom Penh yesterday, signing agreements on economic and trade cooperation.

The two countries had signed seven cooperation agreements beginning in 1993, but they were never implemented, said Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Secretary of State Ouch Borith following meetings.

The bilateral agreements range from cultural cooperation to trade promotion to establishing a joint IT committee.

“The agreements have never been actually implemented. Therefore, [yesterday] we agreed to push for actual implementation in the near future,” he said.

The North Korean signatory was their Deputy Trade Minister Ri Myong San.

North Korea had pledged to assist Cambodia with exploring for gold, iron and aluminum, as well as construct small-scale hydroelectric projects. Cambodia aims to export agricultural products such as rice, corn and beans in return, he said. Earlier this month, the European Commission agreed to provide 10 million euros (US$14.54 million) in emergency good aid to North Korea after find hundreds of thousands at risk of starvation.

Ouch Borth said North Korea has promised to study markets in Cambodia.  “We don’t have the investment from the North Korean at the moment beyond its restaurants,” he said.

Cambodia has a long history of strong political relationships with North Korea, dating to former king Norodom Sihanouk’s relationship with former North Korean leader Kim Il Sung.

Ouch Borith said North Korea had offered to sell agricultural machinery to Cambodia, such as tractors, at cheaper prices than Western countries and wanted to provide expertise in developing mines.

“We have only small and medium-sized enterprises, not big industries, but Cambodia’s natural resources are huge, such as minerals, gold, iron and aluminum,” he said. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY REUTERS

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