The long-postponed General Border Committee meeting between Cambodian and Thai defense officials has been set for the second week of September in Phnom Penh, Defense Ministry Secretary of State General Neang Phat confirmed yesterday.
The GBC presents a forum for the two nations’ defense ministers to discuss security issues along the border, where several deadly clashes have broken out over disputed territory since 2008.
“The GBC is able to meet in the second week of September, while the secretary-general level of the GBC will meet first, before Sept 10,” Gen Phat said.
The GBC meeting will be the first to convene since October last year.
Thailand’s military boycotted a meeting in Indonesia in April, although Cambodian defense officials attended.
Gen Phat said he had just returned from observing last week’s Regional Border Committee meeting in Thailand between Cambodian RCAF Region 4 and the Thai army’s Region 2, aimed at strengthening relationships between both armies and combating cross-border crime.
During a cabinet meeting on Friday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the meeting had helped build trust and represented a step forward in Thai-Cambodian relations, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said.
However, Mr Hun Sen also warned that he would not reopen the international border gate with Thailand at Preah Vihear temple unless an unnamed Thai nationalist group stopped making claims to the temple.
“He will wait and see; until the end of the [Thai] association that formed to reclaim Preah Vihear temple back for Thailand,” Mr Siphan said.
For years, hard-line Thai nationalist groups, such as the People’s Alliance for Democracy, have pressured the government in Bangkok to oppose Cambodia’s listing of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage site and have called on the Thai military to oust Cambodians from the temple.