Monday, May 4, 2009

Cambodia, Thailand Talks to Reduce Borders Tension

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The sixth Meeting of the General Borders Committee (GBC) between Cambodia and Thailand has been held over 28th to 29th April at the Angkor Century Hotel in Siem Reap Province.

The sixth GBC meeting was presided over by Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the National Defense Tean Banh and Thai Minister of Defense Prawith Wongsuwan, accompanied by border experts from both countries.

High-ranking Cambodian military officials and Thai military delegates played golf together in token of friendship at the International Golf Club located in the northwestern tourist zone of Siem Reap province before the second day of meetings.

The Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister said the purpose of the meeting was to resolve the border demarcation issue and to reduce the likelihood of military confrontations near the 11th Century Preah Vihear Temple in Preah Vihear Province.

The Deputy Prime Minister said that the meeting also aimed at strengthening cooperation and good relations between the two countries.

The meeting has not reached any agreement but the two countries have agreed that they will use all means possible to resolve the border depute and avoid the use of military force, according to Tea Banh, speaking during a joint press conference after the meeting on April 29.

The Deputy Prime Minister said that Cambodian and Thai troops would remain in place at the Preah Vihear Temple until the border dispute was finally resolved.

Although the sixth GBC meeting was made without signing an agreement, it was conducted with the spirit of friendship and understanding and produced a 12-point joint statement that will pave the way towards strengthened cooperation and friendship, said Tea Banh.

He said the first of the 12 points congratulated Princess Moha Chakry Siriphorn as she accepted leadership of the malaria prevention and reduction projects in Rattanakiri and Mondulkiri provinces. This came following the suggestion of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Secondly, the two sides praised progress in searching for the border posts and reaffirmed the authority of the Memorandum of Understanding on Border Demarcation dated on June 14, 2000.

Thirdly, the two sides encouraged talks on overlapping maritime boundaries through existing mechanisms.

The two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation over security in these shared waters.

Fifth, the two countries agreed that they will obey agreement on border crossing dated on June 21, 1997 and committed themselves to advising their respective citizens against illegal immigration.

Six, the two countries agreed to crack down on other border crimes such as the smuggling of artifacts, vehicles, drugs and weapons, disforestation and other illegal business activities. Seven, the two sides agreed to cooperate and share experience with each other in de-mining the boundary area.

Eight, the two sides agreed to encourage cooperation in the agricultural sector.

Nine, the two sides agreed to pay attention on cooperation over public health along border to promote better health, increased standards of living and peace to prevent diseases such as bird flu, HIV/AIDS and other deadly diseases.

The two sides agreed to encourage tourism.

Eleventh, the two sides agreed to expand religious, cultural and educational initiatives.

Finally, the two sides agreed that the seventh GBC meeting would be held in Thailand.

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