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‘New era’ for Thailand relationship

Prime Minister Hun Sen (right) and Chinese ambassador Pan Guangxue (left) press a button during the ground-breaking ceremony of Takhmao bridge and the second Chroy Changvar bridge yesterday in Takhmao town, Kandal province.

PRIME Minister Hun Sen declared a “new era” of cooperation between Cambodia and Thailand yesterday as he expressed renewed optimism that the incoming Puea Thai-led government would help resolve the long-running border dispute.

Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Chinese-backed Takhmao bridge in Kandal province, Hun Sen expressed his approval for Thailand’s election results and said he hoped that “all matters” between Cambodia and Thailand “will be resolved peacefully”.

“We are stepping into a new era of cooperation between Cambodia and Thailand … both the people and the military along the border are delighted with the victory of the Puea Thai Party,” Hun Sen said.

The premier also sent a letter to Prime Minister-elect Yingluck Sinawatra on July 4 to express his “most cordial felicitations on the joyful occasion of your party’s landslide victory” in the election. Hun Sen wrote that Puea Thai now has “overwhelming confidence and support to lead the country to a new and serene chapter in its political history”.

Tensions between Cambodia and Thailand over the border areas spilled over into heavy fighting earlier this year, which took the lives of at least 28 people, injured dozens and displaced tens of thousands.

The defeat of Thailand’s Democrat Party has been heralded by Cambodian officials, who have built a close relationship with ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Sinawatra. Thaksin calls Yingluck, his youngest sister, his “clone”.

Efforts to resolve the border dispute, such as a plan for neutral observers from Indonesia to monitor a ceasefire along the border, have stalled, and only ad hoc agreements by military officials at the front line appeared to maintain a precarious peace.

While a Thai army spokesman said yesterday that “no date” had been set for the arrival of the Indonesian observers, or a “survey team” expected to view the area beforehand, he suggested small moves might be moving the plan forward.

Veerachon Sukondhadhpatipak, deputy spokesman for the Royal Thai Army, said that a team from the Indonesian embassy was viewing sites on the Thai side of the border in Sisaket province, across from the Preah Vihear temple, in preparation for the anticipated arrival of Indonesian observers.



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