Border Talks End With No Signed Agreements

siem reap town – Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong and his Thai counterpart Sompong Amorn­­vivat emerged from talks Wed­nes­day night saying that the two sides reached agreements on most is­sues, but were still in disagreement on two points concerning the disputed area around Preah Vihear temple.

No agreements were signed how­ever, and it could still be months before the Thai Parliament gives its green light to a settlement of the border issue.

The two countries agreed to withdraw troops in and near the pagoda by the temple, start demining and demarcation work near the temple, and endorse the Joint Border Commission’s past three years of work on other parts of the border, Hor Namhong said.

“We agreed to avoid fighting, and we need to solve this issue by friendship and as neighbor countries,” Hor Namhong said.

They also agreed to form a joint task force to deal with the issues surrounding Preah Vihear and scheduled another JBC meeting in January, he said.

“We have two or three points that the Thai government needs to discuss with the Parliament, such as the redeployment of troops from both sides,” Som­pong said.

The two sides disagreed on what to call the area around the Preah Vihear temple and on where exactly troops should be withdrawn to, said Virachai Pla­sai, director of treaties and legal affairs for the Thai Foreign Affairs Ministry.

He said the two countries agreed on 99 percent of the issues but could not settle those two points because the propositions fell outside the negotiating framework approved by the Thai Parliament in October.

“First we have to go back and seek agreement on the 1 percent that’s left in terms of framework; then we come back [for negotiations with Cambodia], we agree on 100 percent, then we submit the whole thing to Parliament as a finished product for approval,” he said.

He conceded that the process could still take months, but said administrative steps and geographical surveys would be taken care of in the meantime so that demarcation can start speedily once the legislature gives the green light.

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