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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Cambodian Information Minister Denies Reports Talks With Thailand Terminated

Cambodian Information Minister Denies Reports Talks With Thailand Terminated

By: iStockAnalyst

On 5 August, Cambodian Government-run Phnom Penh Television Kampuchea in Cambodian at 0552 gmt carried a 10-minute recorded video interview, following its midday newscast, with Information Minister Khieu Kanharit by an unidentified Television Kampuchea correspondent on the current border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand.

Asked about Thailand's Bangkok Post daily and some local newspapers quoting him as saying that there would be no more talks on the current border problem with Thailand until after the formation of a new government, Khieu Kanharit said, "This is a bit of misunderstanding. I wish to point out that at the meeting between [Cambodian Foreign Minister] His Excellency [HE] Hor Namhong and [Thai Foreign Minister] HE Tej Bunnag, the top representatives of the two countries' prime ministers, in Siemreab Province, we agreed to pull troops out of that area. This means that we will withdraw the armed forces, because it is not good if troops stay close to each other." "However," he added, "this does not mean that we withdraw all our authorities from the Preah Vihear area. Our border authorities and temple security guards remain there as before.

"Anyway, what is important is that the two government representatives have already shown their goodwill in solving this border problem through peaceful means. However, there still remain more details to be resolved, as I said yesterday, with two solutions. First, the details of the troop withdrawal could be dealt with by a commission led by [Defence Minister] HE Tie Banh. As for the entire border problem, with Thailand claiming that this area belongs to it and that area belongs to Cambodia, it could be dealt with by a commission led by HE Va Kim-hong, responsible for the border delimitation. We have done this work successively.

"And as I already pointed out, the [Cambodian-Thai] border is 830- kilometre long, but we have only 73 border markers. This is a very small number. So, we need to do it in more detail. In the past, we did this only in the areas where there was no dispute, and then we moved to dispute areas where talks were tough. Therefore, it does not mean that we terminate those talks. But we cannot hold further talks because we have already pulled troops out.

"A 2000 memorandum of understanding has determined the preparation of border delimitation in detail and with precision. So, since we have already had this, there is no need for the two governments to hold talks further. I only pointed out that it was unnecessary, but if it was necessary and urgent, we could meet any time. However, as we have already determined the border at talks, it seems unnecessary for the two prime ministers' representatives to meet again while we are in the process of forming a government.

"We leave the time for the government to think of the formation of a new government, but it does not mean that we have closed the door completely. However, as the top leaders have already been in agreement, details should be left for technical teams to deal with. As such, it is not like the local newspapers and Bangkok Post said, 'It is over for now'."

Answering the TVK correspondent's question about Thai troops having put barbed wire to close the entry and exit at Ta Moan Temple and a high-level Thai official announcing Thailand's plan to have the temple registered as a World Heritage site, Khieu Kanharit said, "At first, we regret that Thailand has sent more troops to Ta Moan Temple. However, although Thailand has claimed that the temple is in its territory, and we claim that it is ours, we already said that the 2000 memorandum of understanding has determined that we will discuss the border problem peacefully, with compromise. The troop reinforcements show that Thailand does not keep its words, and it is not the manners of a civilized country having diplomatic relations with the others."

Khieu Kanharit also said that Ta Moan Temple was just a "small temple," and if compar ed to Preah Vihear Temple, it was "very far different from it and not that valuable. It is only an ordinary temple." He added, "As the temple is a dispute area, it is impossible for Thailand to make the inclusion. Maybe, the Thai official does not understand what to do to include a site in the World Heritage list. Perhaps, it is just his hint or he does not understand anything at all. However, we think that normally, that cannot be done." "It is just Thailand's illusion," he concluded.

Originally published by Television Kampuchea, Phnom Penh, in Cambodian 0000 5 Aug 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.tracking

Story Source: BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific


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