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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Abhisit says 2000 Thai-Cambodian MoU precludes UN, third country interventions

BANGKOK, Oct 31 -- Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Sunday countered criticism that the 2000 Thai-Cambodian memorandum of understanding (MoU) related to the survey and boundary demarcation and three documents dealt with by the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) meeting that might put Thailand at risk of losing its territories.

Speaking during his weekly TV and radio address, Mr Abhisit said his government has continued to defend Thailand’s territorial integrity.

Even United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon acknowledged during the ASEAN-UN summit, held in Vietnam last week, that third countries should not interfere in the Thai-Cambodian territorial dispute as the two countries signed an MoU with their Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) in operation, Mr Abhisit said.

He said those who are dissatisfied with the MoU and JBC should understand that the existence of these two would help prevent third country and the UN from interfering into the territorial dispute between the two countries.

He quoted Mr Ban as saying during the summit that negotiations must be held by Thailand and Cambodia.

The Thais should not worry that the country would lose some territory to Cambodia because the Thai constitution stipulates that approval must be given by Parliament before any government can make an agreement with that country.

He said the Thai parliament would only ratify this Tuesday minutes of the previous meetings between the two countries.

However, future meetings on the issue between the two countries must be approved by the Thai Parliament again, Mr Abhisit said.

His remarks were made as activists of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) last Friday petitioned the Central Administrative Court, asking it to stop parliament from considering the proceedings. The court is expected to rule on the injunction Monday.

The PAD also threatened to rally at Parliament this Tuesday, the same day that MPs consider the border commission's proceedings.

The PAD Yellow Shirts have claimed that documents originating from the MoU signed by Thailand and Cambodia in June 2000 related to the survey and boundary demarcation recognises a French map with a scale of 1:200,000 sq km which put Thailand at risk of losing territory. (MCOT online news)
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Clinton: US will help end sexual slavery

SIEM REAP, Cambodia—Pledging to do more to help end the scourge of sexual slavery, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited a rescue and rehabilitation center for child prostitutes in northern Cambodia on Sunday.

Before touring the famed 12th century Angkor Wat temple complex, Clinton met with a group of about 50 victims of human trafficking at the U.S.-funded facility in Siem Reap and promised them continued American support.

"I am so proud of you," she told the girls and young women, most of whom are between 17 and 23. They receive an education and vocational training that includes weaving and sewing lessons.

"You motivate me," she said.

Clinton listened as one young woman, Vann Sina, recounted her story of being abducted at 13 and forced to have sex with 20 to 30 men a day for more than two years before being rescued from a brothel.

"To be a victim is very hard," she said, recalling how she did not understand what she was meant to do when she was told to "sleep" with a customer. "I cannot forget. Sometimes I dream and I get very scared."

The Siem Reap center received a $336,0000 grant from the State Department last year to fund its operating costs and Clinton said she would make sure money continued to flow.

"I wanted to come here today to see you for myself," Clinton said.

Clinton was the first sitting secretary of state to visit Angkor. She was thronged by tourists as she strolled the grounds of the massive site with her aides, accompanied by a bevy of security agents and photographers.

On a tour of northern Cambodia, Clinton is about as far away as one can get from the intense political battle going on back home. Her husband and fellow Democrats are campaigning frantically ahead of Tuesday's midterm elections.

A self-proclaimed ex-politician, Clinton is barred from partisan political activity while serving as America's top diplomat.

The former first lady, New York senator and presidential hopeful is in the midst of a two-week, seven-nation tour of the Asia-Pacific. She won't be back at work in Washington until a week after Election Day.
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Thailand, Cambodia to hold talks on economic cooperation

BANGKOK, Oct 31 -- Thailand and Cambodia will confer on economic cooperation between their border provinces next month, according to Thai Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot.

Speaking at Suvannabhumi Airport on his return from the 17th ASEAN summit ending in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi Saturday, Mr Alongkorn said that senior officials in the border provinces officials of the two countries will meet Nov 30 and discuss possible economic cooperation.

The upcoming meeting is considered as positive sign toward “improving relations both at the provincial and national levels,” Mr Alongkorn said.

Cambodia’s commerce minister discussed economic cooperation between the two countries with Mr Alongkorn at the sidelines of the ASEAN summit. Both agreed that a summit should be held in February.

Both countries agreed Saturday in the Thai resort of Pattaya to cooperate on seven issues during the seventh General Border Committee meeting. The cooperation included allowing citizens of both countries to cross the border freely, removing land mines and to oppose every type of terrorism affecting the two neighbours.

Thailand and Cambodia both claim a 1.8-square-mile (4.6-square-kilometre) parcel of land near the cliff-top Preah Vihear temple, named by UNESCO a World Heritage site in 2008 after Cambodia applied for the status.

The World Court ruled in 1962 that the ancient temple belonged to Cambodia, although its main entrance lies in Thailand. The exact boundary through the surrounding grounds remains in dispute, with occasional military skirmishes claiming a number of lives.

In another related development, the next ASEAN summit will be held in 2011 in Indonesia. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said during the closing address that ASEAN must strive forward and to continue following its principle.

ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) members include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. (MCOT online news)
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