The land of heroes
Our heroes
Our land
Cambodia Kingdom

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cambodia not to raise Preah Vihear issue at ASEAN Summit in Thailand

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia will not list its dispute with Thailand over the ownership of the 900-year-old Preah Vihear Temple into the agenda of the ASEAN Summit next month in Bangkok, Chinese-language newspaper the Commercial News said on Friday.

"The ongoing world financial crisis will top the agenda of the summit, and we will not raise the Preah Vihear issue there," Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hor Namhong was quoted as saying here on Thursday at a press conference.

Cambodia needs not to do that, because all ASEAN member countries and other nations friendly to Cambodia have said that they expect Cambodia and Thailand to solve their dispute through bilateral negotiations, he said.

According to the outcome of the recent meeting between the foreign ministers of the two Southeast Asian nations, the two sides will start to measure the border line and locate the existing border posts in December, and the Joint Border Committee and both foreign ministers will convene new meetings in January, said the Cambodian Foreign Minister.

Earlier this week, Phay Siphan, secretary of state of the Cambodian Council of Ministers said that Cambodia will not boycott the summit in Thailand, even as the two countries have border dispute.

An armed clash in October killed two Cambodian soldiers and wounded two others, after Thai troops entered the disputed border area over sovereignty claim.

There are now 73 demarcation posts along the 805-km border between Cambodia and Thailand, 50 percent of which are recognized by the Thai side. Cambodia still plans to plant hundreds more posts there in order to specify the border line.

In 1962, the International Court of Justice awarded the Preah Vihear Temple and its surrounding lands to Cambodia, but Thai nationalists have turned down the decision and used to stir up protests and demonstrations over its ownership.
Read more!

World's poorest nations meet in Cambodia

As trade officials from the 21 APEC nations gather for their high profile meeting in Peru, their counterparts from the world's poorest countries are doing the same in Cambodia. A two-day ministerial meeting of nearly 50 least-developed countries is underway, looking at how poorer nations can integrate into the global trade system. The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation Pascal Lamy says the meeting comes at a crucial time, when the global financial crisis could jeopardise the goal of reducing world poverty.

KARON SNOWDON: With a membership of 33 African nations and 15 from Asia and the Pacific, this group represents the poorest of the poor. The meeting in the Cambodian city of Siem Riep is organised by the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation and the Cambodian Government. It's about helping the least developed countries or LDCs find ways to participate in world markets with economic benefits. Aidrie De Groot, a director with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation says the global financial crisis is a setback.

ADRIE DE GROOT: We fear that on the one hand it will reduce in the coming two years, maybe, the assistance provided by developed countries to developing countries - which will make our work much more difficult. Secondly, it will certainly decrease demands for products from these developed countries and that is, of course, the key issue that we're trying to deal with. The only way for us, in our perception, for LDCs to grow faster is to increase their exporters to help accelerate the domestic market development and that certainly will be under pressure for as long as the financial crisis holds on.

KARON SNOWDON: It's the second annual meeting of trade and economic ministers from LDCs and coincides with the more wealthy APEC gathering in Peru where national leaders will join their trade ministers later in the week. While both meetings are discussing trade, perhaps it could be said the more important is the one in Cambodia. Its aim is to target aid programs into helping poor nations develop products to the right standards to export. That involves many aspects from agriculture to training, transport and food safety. The focus is on the "aid for trade" mechanism and ways to speed up poverty reduction through south-south cooperation. As these are often negotiated on a bilateral basis, how do big multinational organisations like the UN help?

ADRIE DE GROOT: We help countries to deal with international standards, not any particular set of international standards, most of the donors see benefit in going through the UN.

KARON SNOWDON: And the WTO Aid for Trade Task Force was set up two years ago in 2006 - with which you're working very closely - what progress has that made so far?

ADRIE DE GROOT: Within that an Enhanced Integrated Framework has started which is a focused fund where countries last year pledged about $120 million for the first two years and most of it will simply be funded on a multi bilateral basis: by bilateral donors funding it through multilateral channels.

KARON SNOWDON: Given the UN's bureaucracy, the size of the bureaucracy, what risk is there, with the UN being involved, much of that funding will be dissipated through the UN bureaucracy and not going to the programs that previously were worked through on a bilateral basis?

ADRIE DE GROOT: Our own organisation is quite a small and rather efficient organisation and we have proven we move faster, often, than bilateral organisations. I think what we are doing is attracting funds on the basis of that efficiency. Often the different donors don't always coordinate well and one way of coordinating effectively is to channel your assistance through one organisation to bring it together.
Read more!