Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Pakistan to open embassy in Cambodia

The Pakistani government is in the process to open its first embassy in Cambodia, a Cambodian Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday.

Eat Seyla, director of the ministry's Protocol Department, told Kyodo News that the two countries are now working out the first installation of the embassy in Phnom Penh, bringing the total number of foreign missions in the country to 27.

Diplomatic matters between the two nations have until now been handled through the Pakistani Embassy in Bangkok, he said.

In an interview with a local English newspaper, Charge d'Affaires and future Pakistani Ambassador Nisarullah Baluch said he hoped the embassy would officially open on March 23, Pakistani national day.

The opening will be marked by a trade exhibition of Pakistani surgical instruments and pharmaceutical products, Baluch said, according to the Cambodia Daily.

"In terms of trade, there was much potential for commerce to grow between the two countries. Cambodia has a lot of potential --untapped, huge potential," he said.

The opening of the embassy in Phnom Penh is part of Pakistan's new "Look East" policy and its new focus on building closer relations with member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, he said.

Last year, trade with ASEAN amounted to approximately $7 million, most of it in exports from Pakistan.

"The world is now a world of friends. Those countries who will survive are countries with friends, be they superpowers or small nations," he said.

In April 2004, then Pakistani Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali during a visit to Cambodia signed a cooperation agreement between the two countries, which included joint forces to fight terrorism.

He also pledged Cambodia a $10 million long-term loan for irrigation projects, but the details for the credits are still being negotiated.

A career diplomat, Baluch has previously worked in China, Iran, Canada and Bahrain.