Thai General Wants Preah Vihear Border Crossing Open

Less than a week before Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is set to make a one-day visit to Cambodia, a Thai general has called for the neighboring countries to work together to open a Thai border crossing leading to Preah Vihear temple, Thai media reported yesterday.

An article printed in Thai on an aggregate website run by The Nation Multimedia Group, which also runs the English-language newspaper The Nation, reported that Thai Lieutenant General Thawatchai Samutsakhon said an effort to open a border crossing from Thailand to Cambodia leading to the Preah Vihear temple was in the planning stage. Lt Gen Thawatchai said, however, that it was up to the neighboring governments to make the plans a reality.

The article stated that Lt Gen Thawatchai wants the crossing open sometime next year.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday that he had heard nothing from the Thai government about the proposed border crossing near the temple, but did say he read about Lt Gen Thawatchai’s statements in the media.

Mr Kuong said the border crossing could open if Thai troops leave the disputed area.

Meakh Sina, an adviser to General Pol Saroeun, said the opening of the border crossing could help to continue to reduce tensions between the two neighbors.

“It is both of our wishes to rebuild our relationship and solidarity for peace,” he said.

Sar Thavy, deputy governor of Preah Vihear province, said he had not received information from the Thai government about the border crossing.

Mr Kuong said he did not know if Mr Abhisit and Prime Minister Hun Sen would speak about the Preah Vihear temple when the Thai premier visits Phnom Penh on Wednesday. Mr Abhisit should participate in the tail end of a two-day, three-summit gathering of regional leaders in Phnom Penh, Mr Kuong said.

After the summit, Mr Hun Sen and Mr Abhisit would have an “official talk,” he added.

“I don’t know what they will discuss,” Mr Kuong said.

Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to an e-mailed request for comments about Mr Abhisit’s meeting or the border crossing.

(Additional reporting by Drew Foster)

 

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