PHNOM PENH, Feb. 12 (AP) - (Kyodo)—Construction on a third bridge in Cambodia to be built with Japanese economic assistance began Saturday on a route crossing the Mekong River to Vietnam.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said the bridge, at 2,240 meters, will be the longest and "most beautiful" in the country.
The structure, 37.5 meters above the river at its highest point, will provide a direct transportation link to Vietnam.
The new bridge is at the Neak Loeung River Crossing, 56 kilometers southeast of Phnom Penh. Construction is expected to take until February 2015.
Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony, Yutaka Banno, Japan's secretary of state for foreign affairs, said, "This bridge will not only link the two sides of the river, but link all countries in the region, tying Cambodia today to the future, linking Japan to Cambodia and this bridge will become a popular symbolic tie for our two countries."
At the request of the Cambodian government, Japan in 1992 began rehabilitating the 710m Chroy Changwar Bridge, later named the Cambodia-Japan Friendship Bridge across the Tonle Sap River in Phnom Penh. It was completed in 1994 at a cost of $23.2 million.
The Japan-financed Spien Kizuna Bridge is a 1.3 km traverse of the Mekong in Kompong Cham Province, 125 km northeast of Phnom Penh. It cost $57 million.
Hun Sen, at the ground-breaking at Neak Loeung, said Japan is the biggest grant donor to Cambodia, offering about $130 million a year.