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New Zealand provides Cambodia with 3.7 mln USD to preserve Angkor Wat

PHNOM PENH, June 4 (Xinhua) -- The government of New Zealand on Wednesday signed up to provide Cambodia with 3.7 million U.S. dollars for the preservation and protection of Angkor Wat Temple, one of the world heritage sites, said a news statement from the Cambodian government.

Bun Narith, director general of Apsara National Authority, which is in charge of protection and management of the Angkor Archaeological Park, and Brent Rapson, the first secretary of New Zealand Embassy to Bangkok, signed a cooperation agreement on Angkor Community Heritage Enhancement Project in northwestern Siem Reap province, where the Angkor is located.

The project will be implemented in five years from 2014 to 2019, the statement said.

"The assistance is vital to manage the Angkor Archeological Park sustainably by safeguarding heritage and improving livelihoods for people living in the site," it said.

It is the second project funded by New Zealand. The first five- year project on Angkor Participatory Natural Resource Management and Livelihoods was ended in September last year.

The Angkor, built in the 9th-12th century, was inscribed on the UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1992. The government said in December last year that 16 countries, including France, Japan, India, China, Switzerland and New Zealand, and 28 international organizations had assisted Cambodia in restoring and preserving the site since then.

It is the kingdom's largest cultural tourism destination, which covers a total area of 40,000 hectares with a lot of ancient temples and resorts.

Last year, the site received some 2.23 million foreign tourists, up 8 percent year-on-year. During the first three months of this year, it attracted 778,740 international visitors, up 12 percent year-on-year, said Chhoeuy Chhorn, administration chief of tourism department in Siem Reap province.

"The top five countries visiting the Angkor Wat Temple are South Korea, China, Vietnam, Japan and Russia," he told Xinhua.

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