Thursday, 27 August 2009

Details of border talks to be tabled

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation
Published on August 27, 2009

The Foreign Ministry will submit details to Parliament tomorrow of three meetings on demarcation of the Thai-Cambodian border - centred on the Preah Vihear temple area - amid strong opposition from some senators and influential members of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD)

The Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC), met last November, in February and in April this year, to set a framework on boundary demarcation and provisional arrangements for the disputed area near the Preah Vihear temple.

Article 190 of the Constitution requires the ministry to report to Parliament on meetings of the JBC, deputy ministerial spokesman Thani Thongpakdi said, and this had to be done before further discussion with Cambodia.

Senator Paiboon Nititawan said earlier his group of 40 senators would oppose the government's demarcation and provisional arrangements for the disputed area at the Preah Vihear. The 4.6 square kilometre area belongs to Thailand, he said.

The senators' move was backed by the PAD, who demanded yesterday the government remove by force the Cambodian community in the disputed area.

"The PAD disagrees with negotiations as long as Thai territory is occupied," PAD spokesman Panthep Phuaphongphan said.

The Democrat-led government should take the same stance as when it was in opposition, he said.

The Democrat Party and the PAD used the bruised nationalism of Preah Vihear temple to attack the previous governments. They managed to get Noppadon Pattama to step down as foreign minister, and had the whole cabinet under Samak Sundaravej in legal trouble for its support of Cambodia's proposal to list the Preah Vihear as a world heritage site.

However, Thani said the senators and the PAD misunderstood the demarcation and provisional arrangements.

"The ministry would not submit the provisional arrangements to the Parliament this Friday since we have not yet begun discussion with Cambodia on the matter," he said.

In regard to provisional arrangements on border issues in the area near Preah Vihear, both sides merely reached an agreement in a meeting in April in Phnom Penh on the use of the term "Temporary military monitoring groups" for security units in the area. The foreign ministry needed the Parliament's approval for further talks.

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