In his first public meeting in weeks, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An on Friday met with a delegation of Thai officials in Phnom Penh and pledged Cambodia’s commitment to resolve a decade-old maritime dispute over contested maritime space in the Gulf of Thailand.
Speaking to reporters at the Council of Ministers on his first full day back in the country after receiving medical treatment in Singapore, Mr. An said he hoped that negotiations on a power sharing agreement over the 27,000 square km area of resource-rich sea would pick up pace.
“The main purpose of the meeting was to tell the Thai energy delegation about Cambodia’s stance on this issue between Thailand and Cambodia that has been discussed for more than 10 years,” he said. “We want to find a formula that both parties can find acceptable in doing business together to get oil and gas offshore.”
“We work hard to show that we want justice in this matter. What can we do to have a quick resolution?” he asked.
Also present at the meeting was Thai Senator Suradet Jiratiticharoen and a representative from Thailand’s state-owned PTT Exploration & Production company.
Both countries have been trying to find a solution to the disputed waters since 2001, when they signed a memorandum of understanding that called for joint development of the area.
In the past, talks have repeatedly stalled, often due to tensions escalating on contested territory surrounding the Preah Vihear temple.
But Thai-Cambodian relations have improved dramatically since Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra came to power in 2011, and just last week both countries pulled out their troops from the area surrounding Preah Vihear.
Despite looking frail at Friday’s meeting, Mr. An has had a full recovery and is officially back at work, said Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers.
“After Sok An’s absence from Cambodia for three to four weeks, Sok An returned to Cambodia on Thursday evening.
He returned with the good health,” he said, adding that Mr. An had been treated for a 5.6-centimeter-wide kidney stone.
“His health is fully replenished. He is walking well, his face is smiling and his voice is clear.”