Cambodia, Thailand Reach Border Agreement

Cooperating in cracking down on illegal border trade was foremost among issues the Thai and Cambodian militaries agreed to at a meeting Wednesday in Phnom Penh, said Cambodia’s commander-in-chief.

“Both sides agreed to provide cooperation on protecting, preventing and cracking down on smuggling by determining very specific and clear measures,” General Ke Kim Yan said at a press conference also attended by Thai Supreme Commander General Mongkon Ampornpisit.

Smuggling in the northwestern region bordering Thailand is a major problem that must be addressed immediately, Ke Kim Yan said. The goods smuggled range from everyday commodities and timber to historic relics.

The two countries agreed to naval cooperation, settling border disputes through negotiations, repatriating displaced persons, preventing illegal immigration, protecting tourists and cracking down on crime along the border.

However, the joint Thai-Cam­bodian communiqué offered no details on how the agreement would be implemented.

One military analyst, while generally praising the agreement as “necessary” because of the long and porous border between Thailand and Cambodia, was cautious about the extent to which the pact would be followed.

“Enforcing it is another thing,” he said. “I think it will be on a selective basis, when it’s convenient for both sides…and does not involve politics.”

In particular, the military analyst said the agreement “on paper” would facilitate the Thais taking tycoon Teng Bunma into custody and Cambodians apprehending Khmer Rouge leader Ta Mok. However, he was doubtful either arrest would occur.

The joint communiqué marks the second meeting of the Border Peacekeeping Commit­tee, an institution established by Cambodia and Thailand in 1995 to assist in border cooperation. The first was held in May 1997.

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