Thai Minister Taking Steps to Reopen Border

Thai Foreign Minister Sura­kiart Sathirathai will walk on foot across the Cambodian border in Poipet town today in a symbolic gesture to welcome Cambodian officials to talks in Thailand aimed at normalizing relations between the two countries.

Relations warmed this week when Cambodia transferred al­most $6 million in compensation on Monday to the Thai government in payment for destruction to the Thai Embassy on Jan 29.

“[The Thai minister] will walk across the border to show close relations and normalization and to invite [Minister of Cabinet] Sok An to have a meeting in Bangkok to discuss the opening of the border,” Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters at Phnom Penh International Air­port on Thursday.

“When the border opens, normalization will happen and [the] ambassador will be back,” he said, adding that he was recently asked by Thai media if Cambo­dians still harbored anti-Thai sentiments.

“The [Jan 29] demonstrations and violence were caused by incitement, not hostility with Thai citizens. In the past there was no [anti-Thai hostility] and now there is none,” Hor Namhong said.

An adviser to Sok An said  Thursday that many issues will be brought to the negotiation table in Bangkok, and the outcome of the negotiations must be balanced for both countries.

Poipet border checkpoint chief Bun Hor said Surakiart Sathi­rathai will cross four meters into Cambodian territory to welcome the Cambodian delegation to Thailand.“The Thais do this because they want to show they welcome the Cambodians,” Bun Hor said.

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