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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cambodian, Thai trades up 36 pct in Q1 despite border row

PHNOM PENH, May 22 (Xinhua) -- The bilateral trade volume between Cambodia and Thailand is still on the rise in spite of recent deadly clashes between the two countries'troops over the border conflict, statistics showed on Sunday.

Total bilateral trades mounted to 716 million U.S. dollars in the first three months, up 36 percent from 527 million U.S. dollars at the same period last year, according to the statistics provided by Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh on Sunday.

Cambodia's export to Thailand was 55 million U.S. dollars, up 139 percent from 23 million U.S. dollars, while Thailand's export to Cambodia worth 661 million U.S. dollars, up 31 percent from 504 million U.S. dollars.

According to the statistics, Thailand's exports to Cambodia include petroleum, processed goods, consumer products, construction materials, fruits, vegetables and cosmetics, while Cambodia primarily ships agricultural products, second hand garments, recyclable metal, and fishing products.

Jiranan Wongmongkol, director of Foreign Trade Promotion Office at Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh, said the rise is due to mutual trust between Cambodian and Thai businesspeople and Cambodians' faith on Thai products.

"We still see a sharp rise in bilateral trade exchange from January to March this year despite there was a border fight in February," she told Xinhua by telephone on Sunday. "We expect the rise trend continues throughout the year."

Cambodian commerce officials agreed that the sporadic border clashes have slight impacts on trade activities.

"Trade is for profit, when merchants think it is profitable they still do," said Chan Nora, a secretary of state for the commerce ministry.

Cambodian and Thai border has never been completely demarcated. The conflict has occurred just a week after Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple was enlisted as World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008.

So far in this year, two major deadly clashes had occurred. One was on Feb. 4 to 7 at Preah Vihear temple and the other was from April 22-May 3 at Ta Mon temple and Ta Krabei temple in Oddar Meanchey province, leaving dozens of both sides' soldiers and civilians killed and tens of thousands of locals fled home for safe shelters.
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Khmer Rouge court 'damaged' by new case row

PHNOM PENH - CAMBODIA'S UN-backed war crimes tribunal has come under fire from observers and Khmer Rouge victims as it weighs a controversial new case that is strongly opposed by the government.

The court's third case - which targets two unnamed individuals - has proved so contentious that Cambodian and international prosecutors openly argued about whether to pursue it this month.

'There is definitely already damage to the court because of the controversy,' said tribunal monitor Clair Duffy from the rights group Open Society Justice Initiative.

So far only one member of the murderous 1975-79 regime, former prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, has been successfully prosecuted. He was sentenced last July to 30 years in jail for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The case is now under appeal. A second trial involving the regime's four most senior surviving leaders is due to start next month.

But the government want the court's activities to end there, arguing that going after more suspects further down the chain of command could plunge the country back into civil war. Prime Minister Hun Sen - himself a mid-level cadre before turning against the movement - last year said the third case was 'not allowed'.

Little information has been made public about case three, but the suspects are believed to be former Khmer Rouge navy and air force commanders. A possible fourth case, thought to involve three mid-level cadres, is still under investigation but is also facing political pressure. -- AFP
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Cambodian, Thai border talks make headway: Cambodian official

The negotiations on the border row between Cambodia and Thailand have made headway as Thai defense minister Prawit Wongsuwon promised to receive a joint Indonesian survey team to evaluate the situation at the conflict area near Preah Vihear temple, said Cambodian defense minister Tea Banh on Saturday.

"Mr. Prawit Wongsuwon has verbally promised to accept an Indonesian survey team into the disputed border as a prerequisite to holding a General Border Committee meeting," Tea Banh said at Phnom Penh International Airport when arriving from attending the 5th ASEAN defense ministers meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia.

During the meeting, Tea Banh and Prawit Wongsuwon discussed the border conflict on May 18 under the preparation of Indonesian defense minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro.

"Mr. Prawit demanded Indonesia to issue an announcement about the dispatch of the survey team to the conflict border in a proper time and suggested that they dress as civilians," said Tea Banh.

"Prawit is likely to be willing to solve the border issue with Cambodia,"he said, adding "this can be considered as a progressive step in the border talks between Cambodia and Thailand. "

"As soon as the Indonesian survey team arrives at the border near Preah Vihear temple, Cambodia will hold the GBC meeting with Thailand bilaterally without Indonesian presence," Tea Banh said.

Meanwhile, he said that on May 20, there was also a meeting between ASEAN defense minister and Chinese defense minister in Indonesia.

"At that time, Chinese defense minister Liang Guanglie has encouraged Cambodia and Thailand to accelerate the negotiations in order to end the conflict soon,"he said.

Cambodian and Thai border has never been completely demarcated. Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple was enlisted as World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008. But Thailand claims the ownership of 1.8 square miles (4.6 square km) of scrub next to the temple. Just a week after the enlistment, Cambodia and Thailand had a border conflict, triggering a military build-up along the border, and periodic clashes between Cambodian and Thai soldiers have resulted in the deaths of troops on both sides.

Source: Xinhua
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