Hun Sen, Abhisit Agree To Strengthen Ties

Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart Abhisit Vejjajiva agreed to increase bilateral cooperation in cross-border areas during their one-on-one meeting in New York on Friday, according to a government official.

As he arrived back in Phnom Penh with Mr Hun Sen yesterday, Council of Ministers Secretary of State Prak Sokhonn spoke on behalf the premier, telling reporters that the meeting with Mr Abhisit on the sidelines of the US-Asean leaders meeting had been a success.

Mr Sokhonn said the two leaders had agreed to avoid armed conflict on the border, to exchange sporting and cultural delegations, to open a new border checkpoint north of Banteay Meanchey’s Poipet City and improve bilateral trade.

Mr Sokhonn added that the leaders had also agreed to maintain an open phone line in a bid to prevent the misinterpretation of media stories involving their public remarks.

“This is the first meeting since the countries’ relations have gotten worse [and] the rehabilitation of the countries’ relations needs to go step by step,” he said, adding that the two leaders were due to meet again next month at both the Asia-Europe Meeting in Brussels and the Asean Summit in Hanoi.

Officials at the Thai Foreign Ministry could not be reached yesterday but a statement released by the Thai government quoted Mr Abhisit as saying that the meeting with Mr Hun Sen had been a success and that cooperation was the way forward for the two nations.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said yesterday that the meeting was a “positive” development for the two nations’ relationship. Of the two nations’ dispute over border territory near Preah Vihear, Mr Siphan said he believed the issue was “out of Mr Abhisit’s hands.”

“The Joint Border Committee’s work has to be ratified by the Thai Parliament” before bilateral dialogue can continue, he said.

Mr Sokhonn also confirmed yesterday that more than 200 RCAF demining experts would travel to Lebanon in late October, or early November, on a UN peacekeeping mission. (Additional reporting by Mark Worley)


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