Samak visits border troops, advises patience

August 19, 2008 at 1:29 am Leave a comment

Bangkok Post – August 19, 2008

By Wassana Nanuam

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej on Monday advised soldiers guarding the border to be patient as Thailand and Cambodia attempt to resolve the row over the disputed area near the Preah Vihear temple through negotiations. 

“All soldiers should help maintain ties between Thailand and Cambodia. You should be patient and ignore any attempt to cause rifts between the two countries,”the prime minister said during a visit yesterday to the border in Kantharalak district of Si Sa Ket, which is adjacent to Cambodia’s Preah Vihear province. 

Mr Samak stressed the importance of Thai-Cambodian relations as the two countries are immediate neighbours and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). 

He hoped Cambodia would reduce troop numbers in the disputed area to the same level as Thailand. 

Thailand has 300 troops in the 4.6-sqkm overlapping zone, while Cambodia has 500 in total, the prime minister said. 

The Thai and Cambodian foreign ministers, Tej Bunnag and Hor Namhong, were to meet at an informal dinner last night in Cha-am district of Phetchaburi. They will co-chair the Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) meeting today.

Army chief Gen Anupong Paojinda visited the area and the Ta Moan Thom temple in Phanom Dong Rak sub-district in neighbouring Surin yesterday and said later he was not worried about the border situation in the area. 

Neither country wanted a military stand-off, Gen Anupong said. He hoped the two ministers would agree at the JBC talks to withdraw more troops from the overlapping zone. 

Thailand and Cambodia completed the first round of troop reductions on Sunday. The pullout agreement was reached at the JBC meeting in Siem Reap on July 28. 

Hor Namhong was also optimistic that a new round of talks with Thailand would result in a lasting solution to the long-running border dispute. 

“The meeting will achieve good success in resolving the problem step by step,” the Cambodian minister said in Phnom Penh before departing for Thailand. 

Hor Namhong insisted his government wished to resolve the problem peacefully, amicably and by legal means. The two countries share “a lot of economic and trade interests”, he said. (with additional reporting by AFP)

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Entry filed under: Politics, Preah Vihear Issue. Tags: , .

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