Joint Border Commission Heads Back to Work

The Joint Border Commission resumed on Monday its task of demarcating the Thai-Cambodian border, with Friday’s armed clashes at the Preah Vihear temple on everyone’s mind.

Although it was not on the official agenda, troop withdrawal was to be discussed, said JBC Cambo-dian co-chairman Var Kim Hong before the start of the meeting at the Council of Minister in Phnom Penh. However, Var Kim Hong declined to speak to reporters after the meeting ended, saying the JBC reconvenes today, and that he preferred waiting for final results to comment.

“An incident happened. This is the last push to resolve the border dispute; if we delay this again, an-other incident might take place,” he said.

“When the demarcation posts are set, the conflict should be re-solved,” he added.

Var Kim Hong reiterated the Cambodian position, that Thailand was responsible for Friday’s clashes because Thai troops violated previous agreements by advancing into disputed territory.

The two countries agreed to form a joint delegation that will in-spect the troops on the border and see where precisely they are stationed on the ground, JBC deputy chairman and RCAF Lieutenant General Chhum Socheat said.

But the continuing disagreement between the two countries on whose land the temple is located could once again prevent the signing of any agreement.

Talks in February in Bangkok and last November in Siem Reap reached an impasse when Thai-land demanded that the Thai name of the temple, “Phra Viharn,” also be used in official documents. Cambodia refuses that demand, arguing that the Khmer temple should be called by its Khmer—and world-recognized—name Pre-ah Vihear.

A Thai delegate, who declined to be named because the results of Monday’s negotiations were not final, explained that his country’s position was to use “something equal” for both countries.

“We haven’t agreed yet on a name so we just decided to talk about other things,” such as finalizing documents on 29 agreed border demarcation pillars, he said.

The name issue is set to be ad-dressed again today, he added.


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