O’Smach Border To Be Opened to Foreigners

Cambodian and Thai officials on Friday agreed to make the O’Smach border crossing in Od­dar Meanchey province into an in­ternational border checkpoint in order to increase trade and tourism, officials said Monday.

Var Kim Hong, head of the Council of Ministers’ Joint Border Commission, said the two countries agreed to open the international crossing at a Ministry of Foreign Affairs meeting. The two sides agreed that the O’Smach border checkpoint could “serve people’s needs in trade and economic development between the two countries,” he said.

The international border crossing could be especially useful for tourists who want to travel overland to Siem Reap province, where they could visit the fabled Angkor temples, he said.

“O’Smach is not far for Thai people to cross from their pro­vince to Siem Reap—people from both countries can make businesses and exchange goods,” Var Kim Hong said.

O’Smach is a former Funcin­pec military base used by forces loyal to Prince Norodom Rana­riddh against Prime Minister Hun Sen’s troops during the 1997-1998 factional fighting. The government turned O’Smach into a local border checkpoint once the fighting ceased.

Today, it is open three days a week and is often used by Thai gamblers who cross over to gamble at the two casinos built in O’Smach in recent years.

Heang Socheat, O’Smach check­point chief, said he received the information about the meeting but has not yet carried out the order to open the crossing as an international checkpoint because local officials from both countries need to complete more paperwork.

People living in Pailin and Anlong Veng, however, have built homes and opened more guest houses in anticipation of new international border crossings, which were rumored to be opening in their areas in the near future.


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