Monday, 3 March 2008

Thai PM visits Cambodia to strengthen bilateral relations

MCOT English News
3 March 2008

BANGKOK, March 3 (TNA) – Thailand's Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej began his second official trip abroad, leaving for Cambodia on Monday morning.

The prime minister and his delegation left for Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, Monday morning on a two-day visit, after having made his first visit abroad since assuming the premiership in an official visit to Laos last weekend.

Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama said the Thai premier's visit to Cambodia was aimed at strengthening ties between the two countries Gen. Anupong Paochinda, Thailand's Army chief, who also accompanied the prime minister, said the main issue to be discussed with Cambodian authorities is border demarcation, which has not achieved much progress in the past.

Among the agenda items is the Cambodian request for a loan from Thailand to build a road with the budget of Bt1.4 billion (currently US$43.75 million). Land development, oil and gas exploration in disputed, overlapping Thai-Cambodian geographic areas, are expected to be dealt with on the agenda, said Mr. Noppadon. Speaking about the ancient Preah Vihear Khmer temple ruins, which Cambodia has proposed to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for designation as a World Heritage site, Mr. Noppadon said Thailand can discuss the issue to reach a solution with the neighbouring country. However, Cambodia said the issue won't be considered.

"The International Court of Justice in the Hague ruled (in 1962) that Preah Vihear temple belongs to Cambodia, but the move by Cambodia to push the temple on the UNESCO World Heritage list should neither affect Thailand's rights in the overlapping zone nor at the border," the Thai foreign minister said.

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