Thailand Reopens Disputed Border Crossing

The Thai government has re­opened a provincial border check­point, more than one week after closing it, Cam­bodian officials said Sunday.

The reopening came as officials from Thailand and Cambodia met on Friday in Banteay Mean­chey province to hammer out a compromise after the Thais’ unilateral shutdown, according to Nhiek Kim Chhun, the province’s second deputy governor, and Var Kim Hong, chair of the government’s joint border committee.

The Thais closed the border crossing in Banteay Meanchey on July 11 without providing a reason, stunning Cambodian officials, who said the action was unacceptable.

Var Kim Hong said the Thai and Cambodian officials came to terms to reopen the border checkpoint because the Thais could not offer any reason why it should be closed.

The Thais “agreed to reopen the border crossing because there was no reason to shut it down,” Var Kim Hong said.

The closure of Boeung Tra­kuon was the third time the check­point had been closed since its opening in 1998, officials said.

Cambodian officials speculated the Thais closed the border to punish Cambodia for not removing three thatched-roof houses, built in 1993, that were located close to the border line.

The Thai officials apologized for their unilateral closing of the crossing at the meeting, saying they should have informed Cambodian officials in advance, according to Nhiek Kim Chhun.

Late last year, Thailand closed the border crossing in Preah Vihear province, claiming that Cambodian villagers living near the border were dumping waste into a stream that flows into Thailand, polluting it.

That checkpoint remains closed, making it all but impossible to reach the 12th-century Preah Vihear temple from the Cambodian side. Cambodia is building a new road to make the temple accessible.


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