Thursday, 5 May 2011

Checkpoints reopen as tensions subside

via CAAI

Published: 5/05/2011 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News

Chong Chom and Chong Sa-ngam checkpoints reopened yesterday after border skirmishes forced their closure almost two weeks ago.

The reopening followed talks that were held in the morning between 2nd Army chief Tawatchai Samutsakhon and Cambodia's 4th Army commander Chea Mon in Cambodia's Oddar Meanchey province, which is located opposite Chong Chom border pass in Surin's Kap Choeng district.

The reopening came after the tense situation near the two border checkpoints eased.

Lt Gen Tawatchai also took the opportunity yesterday to discuss ways to prevent further clashes by suggesting commanders of the two countries contact each other as soon as gunfights erupt.

Yesterday, authorities from both countries unlocked the main gate of Chong Chom checkpoint and shook hands.

Chong Sa-ngam in Si Sa Ket's Phu Sing district reopened later on in the afternoon.

Although the border checkpoints were open again yesterday, traders were not ready to resume trading straight away. Bustling trade is expected today at the border markets at both locations.

Villagers in Kap Choeng district said they were happy to witness a return of some semblance of peace which makes border commerce possible again.

"Please think of us poor people," one villager pleaded to both the Thai and Cambodian governments.

Wi Manorak, a motorcycle taxi driver at Chong Chom, said he had anxiously waited for today when Thai and Cambodian traders could resume border contact and trade.

Fruit seller Niyom Chiakaeo said the suspended trade had deprived him of income and the reopening of the border had saved his family from starvation.

"If the governments wants to close the checkpoint, do it permanently or they should open it forever," said Mr Niyom.

The 2nd Army is allowing Cambodians to buy goods in Thailand, but it still prohibits the export of certain products, including petrol and cooking gas, until the situation returns to normal.

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