Thailand, Cambodia Agree to Convene Border Committee

Posted August 11th, 2011 at 5:00 am (UTC-5)
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Thailand and Cambodia have agreed to convene a committee to discuss their festering border dispute, likely before the end of this month.

Thai Defense Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa said Thursday his Cambodian counterpart had called him to request the meeting of the General Border Committee. He said the meeting could take place as soon as the new Thai government delivers a policy statement to parliament, which is due within 15 days.

In Phnom Penh, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Indonesian mediators would have to be present during talks on a disputed 17-square-kilometer area around the Preah Vihear temple, but that the countries could discuss other issues on their own.

Diplomats also raised the prospect of an early summit between Hun Sen and Thailand's new prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra.

Hun Sen sent a letter to Ms. Yingluck this week, congratulating her on her new position, and reports say his government is warmly disposed toward her administration.

Yutthasak said he and Cambodian Foreign Minister Tea Banh are old friends and are looking forward to an exchange of visits. He said the initial border talks will focus on reducing troops in the border area and permitting residents to lead a normal life.

Thousands of villagers were displaced by armed clashes earlier this year near the Preah Vihear temple and in another disputed border zone. Eighteen people were killed in the fighting.

Indonesia, as chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, has helped to mediate the dispute and has agreed to send an observer force to the disputed Preah Vihear zone. But Cambodia and the former Thai government were unable to agree on terms for their deployment.