Thailand, Cambodia to hold border talks

August 12th, 2011 - 4:37 pm ICT by BNO News  

BANGKOK (BNO NEWS) — Thai Defense Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa on Thursday said Cambodia and Thailand have agreed to hold a meeting later this month to try to resolve their border dispute, Thai News Agency MCOT reported on Friday.

Yutthasak told reporters that his Cambodian counterpart had called him to request the meeting of the General Border Committee (GBC). He said he will move ahead on the request once the new Thai government delivers its policy statement to Parliament, which is due within 15 days.

“[Cambodian Defense Minister] Tea Banh told me that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen wanted the two countries’ defense ministries to hold border talks first,” Yutthasak said, adding that he believed after the meeting the situation will gradually improve and he would pave the way for a summit between Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her counterpart.

“The border talks will focus on reducing troops at the border, allowing both Thais and Cambodians living along the border area to lead a normal life. That will be a win-win situation for us both,” he said.

Both Cambodia and Thailand claim the 4.6 square kilometer (1.7 square miles) area near the ancient Preah Vihear temple on their shared border, which has never been formally established. Cambodia requested Indonesian observers to mediate in the conflict but Thailand denied.

Tensions first escalated between the two countries in July 2008 following the build-up of military forces near the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple. The United Nations Security Council urged both sides to establish a permanent ceasefire after at least 10 people were killed.

Clashes resumed earlier this year as both nations claim the lands surrounding the ancient Hindu Temple, which has been damaged due to the conflict. The Preah Vihear temple dates back to the 11th century and is located on the Cambodian side of the border.

In 2008, the temple was inscribed on the World Heritage List in recognition of its outstanding universal value. It is considered an outstanding example of Khmer architecture and consists of a complex of sanctuaries linked by pavements and staircases on an 800-meter-long axis.

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