Cambodia gets $ 80 mln funding for Thailand rail link

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SINGAPORE, Nov 2 (Reuters) Cambodia will build a rail link to Thailand after it received million in funds from the Asian Development Bank and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Cambodia's transport minister said today.

Work on the 48-kilometre connection between Sisophan in Cambodia and Poipet near the Thai border will start early next year and be completed by 2010, said Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol.

The 80 million dollars funding will also cover improvements to other parts of the Cambodian railway system, he told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of transport ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nation, or ASEAN.

The link between Cambodia and Thailand is part of plans for a 5,500 kms railway linking Singapore to Kunming, which was was first proposed by ASEAN in 1995.

The project, which envisages connecting domestic rail networks to form a continuous link from Singapore to Kunming in China, is aimed at easing travel between various Southeast Asian countries and China.

Besides the connection to Thailand, Cambodia will also have to build 257 kms of tracks linking its capital Phnom Penn to Loc Ninh in Vietnam.

Sun Chanthol said the Vietnam rail link will cost around 500 million dollars and his country was seeking funding for the project.

ASEAN, which groups Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos, today also signed a maritime agreement with China.

Reuters SZ DB1214

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