MCOT English News
SI SA KET, Sept 13 (TNA) – Thailand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Kasit Piromya on Sunday met with senior Cambodian military officers and later visited Thai military posted near the ancient Preah Vihear temple to boost their morale.
Before his talks with Gen Chea Dara, deputy commander-in-chief of Cambodia’s armed forces, Mr Kasit attended a briefing by officers from Thai Army Region 2, responsible for security affairs in northeastern Thailand, on disputes between Thailand and Cambodia in the area near the 11th century temple.
He was told that clashes between Thai and Cambodian forces have taken place four times since July last year, immediately after UNESCO—the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization—granted Cambodia’s application for Preah Vihear temple to be designated a World Heritage Site because Thailand and Cambodia use different maps on which to base their territorial claims and negotiations are needed to solve the problem.
The officers said that the Thai government had repeatedly asked the Cambodian government to follow the joint agreement both countries signed on June 14, 2000 after local Cambodian residents built a market and homes near the contested Wat Keo Sikha Kiri Savara.
Admitting that he still did not know when the border row over Preah Vihear temple might end, Mr Kasit told journalists that he would try to accelerate negotiations, including reducing the number of troops posted at the temple, as soon as possible.
He said that future approaches to resolving the border disputes would be carried out in accordance with the existing legal framework. Mr Kasit emphasised that the leaders of Thailand and Cambodia would have an opportunity to meet again during the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Thailand next month.
Regarding requests for reopening a Thai national park near the temple which would help boost tourism, Mr Kasit said its opening would depend on the talks which the two countries will conduct.
Reopening the national park would benefit both tourism and ASEAN’s stability, and both countries should resolve the temple problem reasonably, he said.
Both Thailand and Cambodia are members of ASEAN. (TNA)