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Cambodia, Iran Plan Energy Cooperation Deal

Cambodia's foreign minister is expected in Iran next week seeking investment and technical know-how to help develop his country's offshore oil fields.

A spokesman told VOA Khmer Service that Hor Namhong and other senior officials expect to sign an agreement on petroleum cooperation. They hope the visit will also boost diplomatic relations, trade and tourism.

Oil exploration is under way off Cambodia's coast and production could begin by 2012.

However the visit, scheduled for August 10 and 11, comes at a time when the United States is trying to rally support for international sanctions on Iran's oil and gas industry.

New U.N. sanctions approved in June target Iran's military and its ability to procure equipment for its nuclear program. The U.S. and EU have imposed additional sanctions aimed at deterring investment in Iran's energy sector.

U.S. diplomats have been traveling in Asia this month seeking additional support for the sanctions.

But a senior Cambodian official, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary of State Koy Kuong, told Reuters news agency that Cambodia is a "non-partisan" country and that it is "friends with everyone in the world."

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.