Thais To Open Two Checkpoints for Tourists New Crossings on Border

Thai officials have agreed to open two new international checkpoints on the Cambodian bor­der, a senior Cambodian official said Sunday.

After a border-relations meeting Friday in Pattaya, Thailand, Thai officials told co-Minister of Defense Prince Sisowath Sirirath they had agreed to open the new checkpoints, but had made no official statement yet.

“The Thai government has agreed to have international checkpoints at Pailin and O’Smach,” the prince said Sun­day, adding that there were no official talks on the border openings during Friday’s meeting. He did not name the Thai officials.

The Thai-Cambodian border re­­mains littered with land mines. Some areas are demined by agencies, others by families re­locat­ing after years of exile.

“Both sides asked to respect the sovereignty of each country,” the prince said. “Each side will demine their own land and co­operate to pass infor­ma­tion to each other about mine locations.”

The Pattaya meeting comes nearly four months after Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shina­watra discussed border issues in­cluding demining and the accurate demarcation of borders.

News of two new international checkpoints—accessible to all  instead of just Thai residents—would mean more money for Pailin and O’Smach. Pailin al­ready allows frequent Thai visitors to cross the border to go to two casinos, and Thai merchants are allowed to cross at O’Smach.

The prince said international checkpoints would bring money,  just as it has in the Northeast, where an international border opening with Laos has brought an influx of tourists to impoverished Stung Treng province.

A Thai Embassy official in Phnom Penh declined to comment on the international checkpoint issue, saying he had not received a report from the Pat­taya meeting. Incoming Pailin Cabinet chief Mei Mak said Sunday an international checkpoint not only would bring tourists, but more businessmen.


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