Friday, 7 November 2008

Next week's Thai-Cambodian talks to improve border situation

NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Nov 6 (TNA) - The situation at the disputed border areas between Thailand and Cambodia, especially in the vicinity of the ancient Preah Vihear temple, has remained calm some three weeks after an armed clash near the temple, a senior Thai army officer said Thursday.

Lt-Gen. Wiboonsak Neephan, commander of the Second Army Region responsible for security affairs along the northeastern border, said the military of both countries posted near the ancient temple seemed to understand each other better than before and they were trying to avoid confrontation.

His remarks were made as negotiators of the two neighbouring countries planned to hold a two-day meeting, starting Monday (November 10), at the Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) level for the first time to resolve border conflict, in the Cambodian city of Siem Reap. Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat will confer with his Cambodian counterpart on Wednesday, also in Siem Reap, while committee members from the two countries will discuss troop reductions and the removal of landmines along the border.

The border demarcation between the two countries has never been fully implemented due to landmines planted along the border during decades of war inside Cambodia.

The border conflict is caused as Cambodia uses a French colonial map to demarcate the border, which Thailand says favours Cambodia. Thailand relies on a map drawn up later with US technical assistance, which Cambodia says favours Thailand.

Meanwhile at the disputed Ta Muen Thom temple ruins, which Thailand claims sits in the border province of Surin, Lt. Gen. Wiboonsak said Thai soldiers are now posted inside the temple while Cambodian soldiers have withdrawn. Ta Muen Thom is now open to tourists, including Cambodians, he added. (TNA)

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