Monday, 13 October 2008

Cambodia, Thailand set time frame to resolve border disputes

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia and Thailand decided to resume their border talks between Oct. 21 and Oct. 24 in Siem Reap province, after both foreign ministers met briefly here Monday morning.

Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Amornviwat arrived in Phnom Penh earlier Monday and held a meeting with his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong in order to restart negotiations to resolve the months-long military spat at the border area.

The two sides will hold meeting in the Cambodian province to discuss redeployment of the remaining troops at the border area, said a press release from the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

In addition, the Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) of the two countries will conduct meeting between Nov. 3 and Nov. 7 in Cambodia, in order to speed up the survey and demarcation work in accordance with bilaterally recognized documents and MoU, it said.

Both foreign ministers will meet again between Nov. 19 and Nov.20 in Thailand, in order to push for final settlement of the overall border problems, it said.

This time frame aims to avoid further hostility at the border area and settle the border issues between the two countries peacefully and amicably as soon as possible, it said.

Meanwhile, Hor Namhong told reporters at a press conference held after the two-hour ministerial meeting that both countries should agree to refer the issue to international institutions, if the scheduled talks fail to resolve the problems definitely, peacefully and amicably.

According to the press release, Sompong Amornviwat will later meet Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen.

In July, tensions ran high after the ancient Preah Vihear Temple was awarded world heritage status by UNESCO, angering nationalists in Thailand who still claim ownership of the site.

The tension immediately turned into a military confrontation, in which up to 1,000 Cambodian and Thai troops faced off for six weeks. In mid-August, most troops evacuated and just a few dozen soldiers stationed near the temple.

However, bilateral talks to discuss withdrawing troops from around the temple were postponed late August amid political turmoil in Thailand.

In October at the border area, at least one Cambodian soldier and two Thai troops were wounded during an exchange of gunfire, and two other Thai soldiers were seriously injured after stepping on a landmine.

Editor: An

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