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Transparency encouraged

Transparency encouraged

Dear Editor,

I note with concern a recent article in the Phnom Penh Post (V10/N17 "Sihanoukville

highway toll deal draws fire") implying U.S. Government approval of the recent

decision to grant AZ Distribution a concession for the operation and maintenance

of National Route 4. The only discussions between Embassy and Cambodian officials

on this issue concerned the principle of privatization. In those talks, we advised

that it was the sole right and responsibility of the Royal Government of Cambodia

to take necessary measures to maintain the road subsequent to its reconstruction

by the United States. However, the United States expressed an expectation that any

arrangement involving privat-ization would be openly competed and awarded through

a transparent selection process. We did not approve - and were not informed of -

contract terms or the choice of a particular company.

The government of the United States takes great interest in the stewardship afforded

by the Royal Government of Cambodia to a gift from America's taxpayers to Cambodia's

citizens. The Government of the United States expects that all revenues collected

under the concession will be subject to strict and visible accountability and will

indeed be devoted to making significant physical improvements to the route and to

performing quality maintenance on a consistent and continuing basis.

- Kent M. Wiedemann, US Ambassador, Phnom Penh

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