Gov’t Rejects Thai Request for Border Meeting

The government has rejected a request from Thailand to hold a meeting of the Joint Border Commission in early September, citing the Thai government’s failure to ratify the minutes from the three previous bilateral border meetings, a Foreign Ministry official said yesterday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday that Thailand had made the request in a diplomatic note sent to the Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok on Wednesday and that the government had replied in the negative the following day.

Tensions between the two neighbors have flared during recent weeks over a 4.6-square-kilometer parcel of land near Cambodia’s World Heritage-listed Preah Vihear temple that Thailand claims is inside its border.

Cambodian officials have repeatedly said that bilateral negotiations to resolve this dispute through the joint commission cannot move forward until the Thai Parliament approves the outcomes of the three previous meetings held in 2008 and 2009.

Mr Kuong said yesterday that Thailand’s request for a border commission meeting on Sept 1 and 2 was unreasonable on several counts, including Thai proposals to discuss both the management of Preah Vihear temple and the Cambodian villagers living inside territory claimed by Thailand.

“We replied that this is not about Preah Vihear temple, this is just about the border…. The temple was ruled to be ours in 1962 by the International Court of Justice,” Mr Kuong said, adding that Cambodia did not recognize Thailand’s claim to the disputed 4.6-square-kilometer territory.

Thai Foreign Ministry officials were unavailable yesterday.

Last week, Cambodia asked Vietnam, the current chair of Asean, to help mediate in the border talks.

In a letter sent to Vietnam on Friday, however, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya implied that Thailand would not be willing to work within a multilateral framework to resolve the dispute.

“I am confident that, with the continued understanding from our Asean colleagues, Thailand and Cambodia…will succeed in overcoming the current bilateral challenge for the mutual benefits of our two countries and peoples in the spirit of good-neighborliness and Asean solidarity,” Mr Kasit’s statement said.


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