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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cambodian Official Says Border Talks with Thailand Make Significant Progress

Cambodia's border chief said Tuesday that the two-day border talks with Thailand had made remarkable progress, and both sides have agreed to resume the search for remaining border markers from March 5.

"It is a positive step towards solving the border issues between the two countries," said Var Kimhong, senior minister in charge of border affairs, in Tuesday evening before his return from attending the fifth meeting of Thailand-Cambodia Joint Commission on Demarcation of Land Boundary in Thailand.

He said the Cambodia-Thailand border demarcation process has begun in June 2006, but it was stalled since 2008 when the two countries had sporadic border clashes.The issue became thornier as the Thai constitutional laws require that every agreed minutes signed by both sides should go through the Thai Parliament.

"From now on, there will be no more obstacles for border talks as the Thai side dropped the idea that the agreed minutes should receive approval from the Thai Parliament," he said.

The meeting in Bangkok was co-chaired by Var Kimhong and Bandhit Sotipalalit, chairman of the Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary.

The two neighboring countries share an approximately common border of 805 kilometers. But, the demarcation has never been fully completed.

The two sides have only found 48 border pillars out of the total 73, 33 of the found ones received mutual agreement.

The meeting avoided the border demarcation process at the disputed areas next to the 11th century Preah Vihear temple due to the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The two neighbors have had border conflicts over areas near Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple since the UNESCO listed the temple as a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008.

On April 28, 2011, Cambodia submitted a request for interpretation of the judgment given by the ICJ on June 15, 1962 in the case concerning the ancient temple. It was accompanied by an urgent request for provisional measures in which Cambodia demands Thailand immediately and unconditionally withdraw troops from area surrounding the ruins.

On July 18, 2011, the ICJ ordered Cambodia and Thailand to immediately withdraw their military personnel from the Permanent Demilitarized Zone of about 17 kilometers on the disputed border near Preah Vihear temple and allow ASEAN observers access to the zone to monitor ceasefire.

However, so far neither Cambodia nor Thailand has withdrawn its troops from the area.

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