By Na Jeong-ju
President Lee Myung-bak pledged Thursday that South Korea will provide a total of $200 million in loans to Cambodia over the next four years to help its economic development.
He also said Korea will represent the interests of developing Asian countries at global forums, including the G-20 Summit, which Korea is set to host next November, for balanced global growth.
Lee made the promises during an interview with Cambodia's largest-circulation newspaper, the Rasmei Kampuchea, last week in Seoul.
Lee arrived in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, the second stop on his three-nation, six-day Southeast Asian trip, from Vietnam.
Upon arrival, Lee visited Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni for talks on bilateral economic cooperation. In the afternoon, he held a summit with Prime Minister Hun Sen on increasing economic and cultural exchanges.
"President Lee and King Sihamoni agreed to expand cooperation on various fields, including the agricultural and cultural sectors," Cheong Wa Dae said.
"Underlying the rapid development of Korea-Cambodia relations since the normalization of their ties in 1997, Lee hoped there will be stronger bilateral cooperation."
During his meeting with Hun Sen, Lee asked for the support of Korean firms seeking to participate in Cambodia's infrastructure development projects.
Lee also asked him to play a role in strengthening ties between Korea and ASEAN - a 10-member economic bloc including Cambodia.
On the sidelines of the summit, the two governments signed an agreement, which will provide South Korean firms with 200,000 hectares of land - almost the same land area as Jeju Island - for forest plantation.
Seoul has increased its Economic Development Cooperation Fund to finance economic development programs in poor countries.