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ADB: 3 nations to get additional $49 mln to fight tropical diseases

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 4:53 am

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is extending US$49 million to expand surveillance response systems to help control dengue outbreaks, and prevent the spread of communicable and tropical diseases in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, the bank announced Tuesday.

“Preventing these diseases requires better local participation and much more intensive regional cooperation,” Vincent de Wit, who leads health professional in ADB’s Southeast Asia Department, said in the announcement.

SGGP file – Volunteers clean up a canal in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 12 during a 2009 summer campaign designed to clean up the environment.

The bank added that the Second Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Regional Communicable Diseases Control Project, which is an offshoot of the first GMS Regional Communicable Diseases Control Project, would also target improvements in the capacity of health services and communities involved in disease control in border districts of the three countries.

The community-based communicable disease control systems funded by the project are aimed at around 1.7 million people living in 116 border districts. About one-third of the population in the target areas belong to ethnic minority groups, according to the Philippines-based lender.

ADB said the new project would build on earlier successes, from the earlier GMS Regional Communicable Diseases Control Project, to strengthen surveillance and response mechanisms.

Financing will come from ADB’s concessional Asian Development Fund with a loan of US$27 million for Vietnam and grants of $10 million for Cambodia and $12 million for Laos. The three countries will provide counterpart support totaling US$5 million equivalent, said ADB.

The Ministry of Health in each country will be the executing agency for the project, which is due for completion in June 2016. The regional coordination unit will be based in Vientiane of Laos.

Source: SGGP

Nations pledge clean energy amid treaty stalemate

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2010 at 3:23 pm

 Nations pledged to work together to improve the efficiency of energy-guzzlers from televisions to cars, showing practical cooperation on climate change despite a deadlock on sealing a treaty.

Senior officials from economies that make up more than 80 percent of global gross domestic product agreed on 11 initiatives during talks in Washington, which betrayed none of the sharp divisions typical of climate negotiations.

A factory chimney in a residential area emits smoke as haze casts a blanket over Bangalore, India.

US Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who led the meeting, said Tuesday that the clean energy projects would eliminate the need for more than 500 mid-sized power plants around the world over the next 20 years.

“This is about taking concrete action and concrete steps. This is not about philosophical positioning,” Chu said after two days of talks among 21 nations including key emerging economies China, India, Brazil and South Africa.

“Yes, we have to deal with international agreements, but we can’t wait for those to move,” Chu said. “We know the energy challenge won’t wait, and we won’t wait either.”

While the two-day talks were not designed to pledge funds, Chu said that the nations together have invested “hundreds of millions of dollars” in developing green energy, and several states said they were boosting resources in research.

One key initiative will look at ways to improve the energy efficiency of home appliances such as televisions, which the US Energy Department estimated would reduce the need for about 80 power plants by 2030.

A number of nations will participate in the appliance research, including the United States, Japan, South Korea, India and European nations.

In another initiative, Britain and Australia promised to take the lead in accelerating work on so-called carbon capture and storage (CCS) — which lowers the output of carbon, which is blamed for global warming, from power plants.

CCS is considered crucial for the future of coal, which provides more than one quarter of the world’s energy supply and is politically sensitive in major polluters such as Australia, China and the United States.

“We have literally only 10 years to scale up and deploy CCS globally,” said Chris Huhne, Britain’s minister for energy and climate change.

“Each year of delay will lock in an increased amount of old technology which we won’t get rid of,” he said.

Another project, which includes major governments and corporations, will look at ways to collaborate in design efficiency standards for large buildings including factories — which account for more than half of global energy use.

Nations also agreed to exchange notes on one another’s pilot programs to develop electric vehicles, as well as to coordinate in designing so-called “smart grids” that manage community power consumption.

The United Arab Emirates said it would host follow-up clean energy talks in early 2011, with Britain holding a third meeting at a later date to be determined.

The talks, an offshoot of the US-led Major Economies Forum, include both rich and emerging nations but not smaller states such as Sudan and Venezuela whose strident criticisms dominated parts of December’s Copenhagen summit.

Kandeh Yumkella, director general of the UN Industrial Development Organization which champions the economic uplift of the world’s poor, said rich nations still needed to follow through on commitments at Copenhagen to offer 30 billion dollars through 2012 to help poorer nations cope with climate change.

But he said that the Washington meeting should offer hope to developing countries.

The world’s energy demand is estimated to jump by nearly half in the next 20 years, fueled by the developing world.

“If they decide to produce, use and consume energy the same way as the US and OECD (developed) countries have done, we will not be able to deal with climate change,” Yumkella told AFP.

“What this meeting does is to send a message that there are things we know already how to do. They are practical and we can deploy them now.”

Source: SGGP

East-West Economic Corridor nations bolster trade links

In Uncategorized on June 27, 2010 at 12:44 pm

East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC) member countries met June 26 to work out measures to clear obstacles to promote investment, trade and tourism to accelerate economic development in the EWEC, which links Myanmar, Thailand , Laos and Vietnam.

Nguyen Duc Cuong, Chairman of The Quang Tri Provincial People’s Committee speaks at the opening of the East-West Economic Corridor Cooperation Forum on June 26 (Photo: VNA)

Local administrations along the EWEC have to play key roles in enhancing connectivity, competitiveness and sense of community, said Ayumi Konishi, country director of the Asia Development Bank in Vietnam, at the EWEC Cooperation Forum in the central province of Quang Tri.

Mr. Konishi said transnational transport and quicker procedures for crossing borders have facilitated trade in the region.

However, he said, the Agreement on Exchange of commercial traffic rights along the corridor, where transport operators are allowed to operate across borders, has yet to create a good connection among regional trade centers.

The regional countries have to strive harder to strengthen the economic connection to achieve their aim of bringing benefits to residents in remote areas, he added.

Deputy Permanent Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh called on localities and countries in the corridor to develop their potential and boost cooperation to overcome difficulties and create opportunities for EWEC members to develop socio-economy and ensure regional security.

Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Vietnamese Government Office chairman, said the EWEC has boosted trade exchanges among the four countries since it was open to traffic four years ago.

The four countries need to enhance further cooperation in simplifying procedures, creating favorable conditions for crossing borders, developing tourism, and attracting investment, he added.

Le Huu Thang, deputy chairman of the Quang Tri Province People’s Committee, said governments of EWED member countries need to modernize loading equipment at ports.

Immigration and health checks at borders have to be synchronous, he added.

The EWEC, a 1,450km long highway, is an economic development program initiated in 1998 by the Ministerial Conference of Greater Mekong Sub-region in order to promote the development and integration among the four countries.

Source: SGGP

Vietnam-US literature seminar bridges two nations

In Uncategorized on June 5, 2010 at 10:30 am

The war ended 35 years ago and now people who were once on the two front lines are sitting together to talk about poetry and literature. In this manner, it is apparent that literature is always pregnant with the miraculous, to the point that it helps people erase their former complexes and feuds. In order to have a meeting, Vietnamese and US writers had to go long series of steps over the past 20 years.

Kevin Bowen (L), director of the William Joiner Center of the University of Massachusetts, and Vietnamese writer Do Chu (Photo: SGGP)

Coming together thanks to beautiful lines of poetry
The pioneering writer Le Luu brought Vietnamese literature to the US in 1989.
He went to the US at the invitation of the William Joiner Center (a Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences) of the University of Massachusetts, that gathers famous American writers and poets who were veterans of the war in Vietnam.
The center promotes research on the consequences of war, mostly through literature and art.
Kevin Bowen, the center’s director, said that he met writer Le Luu for the first time in Ho Chi Minh City. At that time, together with some veterans and Vietnamese writers, he reviewed stories about the war.
A soldier and poet himself, Bowen sensed that Le Luu would be the one who would help him heal the scars of war Vietnam and America still suffer from, through literature. Then, Le Luu traveled to the US.
After Le Luu, many Vietnamese writers, poets and translators have also gone to the US through the center to study and discover American literature. These men of letters were messengers who introduced Vietnamese literature to the US.
Since then, the center began promoting projects to popularize Vietnamese literature. Bruce Weigl and Nguyen Thanh, a Vietnamese American student, has joined hands to study documents collected by the US after every battle.
The center’s writers and poets have found many poems written in diaries and notebooks of Vietnamese soldiers and guerrillas, which were collected by US troops.
There is no stamp of the war or hatred in the poems, but only emotions of love and homesickness, and hopes about a day when the war would end.
The center decided to translate the poems and published them in a collection named “Poems from captured documents”. They are very simple poems comprise the true feelings of soldiers.
For that reason, the poems make US readers able to see Vietnamese soldiers’ soul, spirit and strength that enabled the Vietnamese to overcome the horrors of war with its lethal weapons, and aspire for peace.
Following the first collection of poems, some of Vietnam’s famous literary works were translated into English and introduced in the US, including the novel Thoi Xa Vang (A Time Far Past) by Le Luu, and poems by Nguyen Trai, Nguyen Du and late president Ho Chi Minh.
Another famous collection of poems, Song Nui (Rivers and Mountains), and a work about the war titled Noi Buon Chien Tranh (The Sorrow of War) by Bao Ninh were also translated and published in the US, receiving enthusiastic responses from the American people.
A chorus of peace and humanity
A seminar on the literature of Vietnam and the US was held in Hanoi on May 28-June 3, with the participation of Vietnamese writers and US writers, poets and researchers of Vietnamese culture from the William Joiner Center.

Delegates focused their discussions on writers’ mission in promoting abroad the beauty of the land, people and culture of Vietnam as well as highly valued great contributions made by American writers on introducing Vietnamese literary works to the US public.

They also exchanged views on the impact of Vietnamese cultural, especially through its literature, on the American people’s viewpoint of current Vietnamese society.

Cultural exchange activities between writers of the two countries and achievements gained in advertising Vietnam’s image in the US over the last 35 years were also highlighted at the seminar.

At the seminar, Vietnamese writer Nguyen Quang Thieu said that introducing Vietnamese literature to the US is just the beginning. In future, more Vietnamese literary works, poems, short stories and essays must find their way into American literary culture.
Like other writers, Mr. Thieu said he didn’t expect much from the seminar’s formal nature, saying what was important was the meeting itself, a chance for the two countries’ writers, who were in different front lines during the war, to sit together peaceably.
Having the same state of mind, the US delegation’s head, Kevin Bowen said he was moved when returning as a visitor to Vietnam, where he was a fighter during the war.
He said he had good impression of Vietnam, immediately upon arriving, and the more contact he has had with the Vietnamese people, the happier he has become.
As a poet, Mr. Bowen learned Vietnamese language through poems. He not only likes folk ballads, he introduces them into his own works.
He has visited Vietnam for many times after the war and written a number of poems and essays about the dignity and soul of the Vietnamese people. With his contributions, he received the Friendship Order from the Vietnamese State.
In memoirs, many American writers have said that they have owed Vietnam and the meeting has helped them attain some level of relief.
Writer Van Gia said that, although the war has been over for 35 years, many aspects of post-war psychology still need addressing, in order to achieve closure with the past and look forward to the future.  Though some things have been done, there is much more work that needs to occur. 
Surely, the war’s remaining myths will be dispelled, if writers and intellectuals from the two nations continue with their devotion to love and reconciliation. 

Source: SGGP

Photo festival to feature ASEAN nations

In Uncategorized on May 19, 2010 at 1:08 pm

The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) on May 17 launched a festival on photos, documentaries and TV reportages that feature the land and peoples of ASEAN member countries.

MIC Deputy Minister Do Quy Doan said Vietnam proposed the initiative at the 10th Conference of the ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information (AMRI) and received agreement from the bloc’s members for its hosting of the first festival.

The event is designed to promote the images of the land, people and process of construction and development of all member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), thus enhancing solidarity and mutual understanding among them, Doan said.

It is also expected to further foster cooperation among the group’s countries in building the ASEAN Community and implementing the ASEAN Charter, as well as celebrating Vietnam ’s ASEAN chairmanship in 2010 and 15 years of its accession to the bloc.

The festival is open to organisations, individuals or groups of authors, who hold citizenships of the ASEAN countries. Each author could send at most five works for each of the genres from May 15 to Sept. 15, 2010.

Prizes, including one first, two second, three third and consolation awards, will be presented to winners on the occasion of the 17 th ASEAN Summit scheduled to take place in Hanoi in October 2010.

Source: SGGP

Arab nations back indirect peace talks with Israel

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 at 8:31 am

 Arab nations on Saturday endorsed indirect peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis, a move that likely paves the way for the start of long-stalled U.S.-brokered negotiations.

The United States has proposed the talks to end the impasse between Israelis and Palestinians over the conditions for resuming negotiations, which broke down more than a year ago amid Israel‘s military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, left talks with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani during an Arab League foreign ministers meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt Saturday, May 1, 2010.

The green light from Arab foreign ministers comes after a first attempt to get indirect talks going collapsed in March when Israel announced a new Jewish housing project in east Jerusalem. The Israeli decision enraged Palestinians, who claim east Jerusalem as a future capital, and drew fierce criticism from the United States. It also led to the worst rift in years between the U.S. and Israel, Washington’s closest Mideast ally.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has signaled that he is willing to resume negotiations, but has been waiting for approval from Arab countries, which would provide Abbas the political cover he needs to return to talks.

Arab League chief, Amr Moussa, stressed Saturday that the league would be keeping a close eye on the talks, and said there will be no transition from indirect to direct negotiations. Arabs want a total freeze in settlement building before returning to direct talks.

This is the second time Arab states have backed indirect negotiations with Israel; the first time was in early March. The Arab foreign ministers expressed reservations Saturday about backing the talks again, and warned that peace efforts would collapse if Israel continued to build settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.

They also said they wouldn’t endorse an extension on the four-month window they originally gave the talks in March, a decision that leaves the U.S. only two months to make headway in the shuttle negotiations.

Syria and Lebanon rejected the decision, saying the U.S. had not provided adequate safeguards needed to renew negotiations.

There was no immediate comment from Israeli officials.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters Saturday in Shanghai, China, that the Palestinians’ executive committee will meet soon to make a final decision on resuming talks.

He also confirmed reports that he will visit Washington later this month for talks with U.S. officials “to push the peace process forward.”

On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the talks would start next week, and U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell is expected back in the region soon.

The negotiations will not be the face-to-face meetings the Obama administration had hoped to put in place more than a year after peace efforts broke down amid Israel’s military offensive on Hamas-ruled Gaza.

The Palestinians have refused to sit down at the same table with Israel until it agrees to freeze all construction in West Bank settlements and in east Jerusalem — two areas that the Palestinians want for an independent state along with the Gaza Strip.

The indirect talks, with Mitchell shuttling between the two sides, were meant as a compromise.

Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi cautioned that the Palestinians would still be waiting to see stronger Israeli compromises on settlement construction.

“If it is to succeed then there are requirements that have to be fulfilled in order to give Mitchell’s shuttle diplomacy … some credibility and substance,” she said. “Of course we need to see on the ground that Israel has stopped settlement activities in Jerusalem, around Jerusalem and everywhere else.”

Source: SGGP

Injury rules Nigeria’s Yobo out of Nations Cup

In Vietnam Sports on January 18, 2010 at 2:57 pm

BENGUELA, Angola, Jan 17, 2010 (AFP) – Nigeria defender Joseph Yobo was on Sunday ruled out of the Africa Cup of Nations after suffering a hamstring injury which will sideline him for at least two weeks.

Imorou Emmanuel (C) of Benin vies for the ball with Nigerian players Echiejile Elderson (L) and Yobo Michael (R) during their group C stage match at the African Cup of Nations 2010 in Benguela on January 16, 2010. AFP PHOTO

According to the official website of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the Everton player tore his hamstring while challenging Benin striker Razak Omotoyossi in the 52nd minute of their Group C 1-0 win here on Saturday.

Yobo, who will undergo a scan on the injury on Monday, could be allowed to return to England for treatment.

Nigeria, second in Group C with three points from two matches, face Mozambique in Lubango in their final group game.

Group leaders Egypt, with six points, have already booked their place in the last eight.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Africa Cup of Nations opens with condemnation of rebel attack

In Vietnam Sports on January 12, 2010 at 12:35 pm

LUANDA, Jan 10, 2010 (AFP) – The Africa Cup of Nations opened Sunday with President Jose Eduardo dos Santos condemning the rebel attack that killed at least two members of the Togo squad, but insisting the games would go on.

Malian fans celebrate a 4:4 tie during the opening match of African Cup of Nations football championships between Angola and Mali at the November 11 stadium in the Angolan capital Luanda on January 10, 2010. AFP PHOTO

The gun attack Friday in the restive northern province of Cabinda has cast a pall over the opening of Africa’s premier football tournament, which had been meant as a coming-out party for the oil-rich nation after decades of civil war.

“We condemn this act of terror, but the competition will continue in Cabinda,” Dos Santos said. “We are together, may the best man win.”

Togo’s government has dispatched a plane to return its team home, even though players wanted to contest the 16-nation competition to honour their assistant coach and a team spokesman killed in the attack claimed by separatist guerrillas.

Coach Hubert Velud told AFP in Cabinda that the team was ready to leave, but Angolan authorities and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) were said to be in talks with Togolese officials in a last-minute effort to convince the team to stay.

Cabinda is to host seven of the tournament’s 22 matches, but with Togo’s goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale still in critical care at a South African hospital, their prime minister ordered the team home.

“We understand the position of the players who want to in some way avenge their dead colleagues, but it would be irresponsible for the Togolese authorities to allow them to continue,” Houngbo told reporters in Lome.

Captain Emmanuel Adebayor told a French radio station that Togo President Faure Gnassingbe had personally told the team to return, a conversation that turned the team’s decision.

“We all decided to do something good for the country and play to honour those who died,” said Adebayor, a Manchester City striker. “Unfortunately, the head of state and the country’s authorities have decided otherwise. We will pack up and go home.”

South African President Jacob Zuma condemned the shooting as “shocking and unacceptable”, but brushed away speculation that the attack could affect his nation’s hosting of the World Cup in June.

He “reiterated that South Africa remains 100 percent ready to host the FIFA World Cup, and dismissed speculation that the Angolan incident had any bearing on the World Cup tournament in South Africa,” his office said in a statement.

Rebels ambushed the Togo convoy as they drove into the Cabinda enclave from neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville on Friday, leaving players cowering under their seats during a 20-minute gunbattle with security forces.

Separatist rebels threatened to carry out more attacks, saying they had warned CAF boss Issa Hayatou against holding matches in Cabinda.

“This is going to continue, because the nation is at war, because Hayatou persists,” said Rodrigues Mingas, secretary general of the Forces for the Liberation of the State of Cabinda-Military Position (FLEC-PM).

“We wrote two months before the Nations Cup to Mr Issa Hayatou to warn him that we were at war. He did not want to take our warnings into consideration,” Mingas told AFP by telephone.

“They were warned, they knew it, and they closed their eyes.”

Mingas’s faction is one of several groups battling for independence in small but oil-rich Cabinda, a cornerstone of Angola’s economic boom, despite a 2006 peace agreement.

The Cabinda shooting had security forces on edge in the capital Luanda in the run-up to Sunday’s opening game. In one incident, police fired into the ground after a driver failed to make a stop, witnesses said.

Goalkeeper Obilale came through surgery in a Johannesburg hospital for gunshot wounds to the lower back and abdomen.

“He is ventilated at the moment, it’s still early stages at the moment,” a hospital spokeswoman said. “He is in critical condition but he stable.”

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Developing nations furious over Danish climate text

In World on December 9, 2009 at 1:35 pm

COPENHAGEN, Dec 9 (AFP) – A leaked Danish proposal triggered outrage at Copenhagen climate talks, with developing nations condemning a draft deal that they argued would consign most of the world’s poor to permanent penury.

The “draft political agreement” circulated informally by the host government exposed the deep faultlines besetting a 192-nation conference aimed at averting the potential planetary catastrophe of global warming.

An Israeli man holds an umbrella as he stands opposite an electricity manufacturing station near the northern Israeli city of Hadera. A leaked Danish proposal triggered outrage at Copenhagen climate talks, with developing nations condemning a draft deal that they argued would consign most of the world’s poor to permanent penury. (AFP photo)

The cost of failure in Copenhagen was underlined by the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation, which said the current decade was shaping up to be the hottest since accurate records began in 1850.

However, the G77 group of emerging nations denounced the Danish text as a backroom stitch-up that favoured rich countries on the pivotal issues of emissions curbs and financing to combat climate change.

The text is a “serious violation that threatens the success of the Copenhagen negotiating process”, said Sudanese envoy Lumumba Stanislas Dia Pin, who heads the G77 bloc including top polluter China and India.

“The G77 members will not walk out of this negotiation at this late hour because we can’t afford a failure in Copenhagen,” he told journalists.

“However, we will not sign an unequitable deal. We can’t accept a deal that condemns 80 percent of the world population to further suffering and injustice.”

The Danish draft, seen by AFP, states the conference’s parties have a “shared vision” for limiting warming to a maximum of two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times.

Emissions pledges are not detailed but, among other things, the draft points to a year by which developing countries, which are the big emitters of tomorrow, would see their emissions reach a maximum.

Chinese negotiator Su Wei said he had not seen the text, but added: “It is too early to talk about a peak year for developing countries.”

The text also makes no mention of extending post-2012 commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, which mandates emissions curbs for developed nations but does not impose legally binding action on poorer economies.

“Like ants in a room full of elephants, poor countries are at risk of being squeezed out of the climate talks in Copenhagen,” said Antonio Hill of Oxfam International.

Developing countries, several of which are already big polluters, are refusing to budge unless rich nations slash their emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020 over 1990 levels.

And rich countries are under pressure to kick in 10 billion dollars a year in “fast-track” funding from 2010 to 2012 to transfer anti-warming technology and expertise to poorer ones.

UN climate chief Yvo de Boer and Danish conference chairwoman Connie Hedegaard sought to still the ruckus, insisting the text dated November 27 was informal and simply aimed at sounding out opinion.

“Under no circumstances is this a ‘secret Danish draft’ for a new climate change agreement. Such a text does not exist,” Hedegaard said, stressing that multiple negotiating papers would be “used for testing various positions”.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said earlier he was “optimistic” that the 12-day negotiations climaxing in a summit of some 110 world leaders would yield a “robust agreement”.

Prospects of a breakthrough were bolstered late Monday when the United States declared it would start to regulate carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, as a dangerous pollutant.related article: US takes action on CO2

President Barack Obama is due to join the closing summit. But highlighting the domestic political constraints he faces, Obama will be trailed in Copenhagen by Republicans adamant that climate change is science fiction.

Members of Congress’s minority party vowed to go to Denmark to highlight a scandal over leaked emails from leading climate scientists, which they said backed their suspicions that the global warming threat was overblown.Related article: US Republicans to rain on summit

“I will not be one of the sycophants that says climate change is the biggest problem facing the world and we need to do all these draconian things that cost jobs,” said Joe Barton, the top Republican on the House energy committee.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Indochinese nations mull over common visa

In Vietnam Travel on October 1, 2009 at 9:59 am

Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia have agreed that a common visa to enter the three countries is an important goal in future.

This file photo shows Vietnamese tourists visit Angkor in Cambodia. (Photo: Van Huyen)

It followed discussions they held on their “three countries – one destination” strategy at a conference on tourism investment in the Indochina region organized in Ho Chi Minh City on September 30.

In last three years, they have cooperated step by step achieve the goal and got some achievements.

They also discussed a strategy for overland tourism between the three countries.

So Mara, Minister of State of Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism, said that daily 100 buses carry tourists between Cambodia and Vietnam on average, and 40 between Cambodia and Laos.

From second position in 2008, Vietnam would climb to top spot in the number of tourists it sends to Cambodia this year, he said.

But the region has yet to develop a cooperation framework to offer tour that take in all three countries, he said.

Soukaseum Bodhisane, vice chairman of the Laos National Tourism Administration, said a lack of quality human resources is the biggest hurdle to tourism cooperation.

To persuade visitors to tour all three countries, they should issue a common visa, he said.

Vehicles to pass through Vietnam-Cambodia border gates

Vietnam and Cambodia held a ceremony on September 30 to mark unrestricted passage of vehicles at certain points on their border.

They include the Moc Bai border gate in the southern province of Tay Ninh and Xamat in Tay Ninh.

In October the two countries will add Tinh Bien in An Giang Province and Xa Xia or Ha Tien in Kien Giang.

Prospects of Vietnam tourism

At the conference, investors said Vietnam has a big advantage in sea-related tourism and would compete with countries like Indonesia and Thailand.

Consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers has predicted that Vietnam will become a big player in the entertainment and amusement industries in the next five years with a market worth US$2.3 billion by 2013, attracting international tourists.

But Nguyen Xuan Trung, deputy head of the Foreign Investment Department, said foreign investment in the tourism sector is only $20 billion out of an overall FDI figure of $170 billion.

Source: SGGP