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Russia refuses to cancel debt

Russia refuses to cancel debt

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National Assembly President Heng Samrin greets officials at Phnom Penh International Airport after his return from a six-day state visit to Russia.

THE Russian Federation has refused to wipe out over a billion dollars of Cold War-era debt, despite National Assembly President Heng Samrin’s appeals to senior Russian officials during his recent six-day visit to the country.

Cheam Yeap, a senior lawmaker for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party who accompanied Heng Samrin on the trip, said Tuesday that Russian officials have not yet accepted the government’s bid to cancel the debt, which totals around US$1.5 billion. The money was borrowed from the Soviet Union in the 1980s for the purchase of military equipment during Cambodia’s decade-long civil war.

Cambodia requested debt cancellation from Russia in 2006 and 2008, but was unsuccessful both times.

“We made an effort to convince them by saying that China cancelled $300 million of a $5 billion debt and the IMF canceled a debt of $82 million. But they said nothing,” he said.

The delegation travelled to Moscow and St Petersburg, where they met with Sergey Mironov, chairman of the Russian Federation Council’s Federal Assembly and other government representatives to discuss a potential air route linking Moscow with Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

He added that Russia’s deputy prime minister and investors from the country will visit Cambodia on November 15 to investigate a possible dam project.

“They will look into investing in a hydropower project in Stung Treng that will be able to produce 980 megawatts of electricity,” he said.