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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bilateral approach may not work for border dispute: PM

Bilateral approach may not work for border dispute: PM

CAMBODIA may be forced to take its ongoing border dispute with Thailand to an international forum if a solution is not brokered soon, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Tuesday, calling Thailand’s occupation of territory adjacent to Preah Vihear temple unacceptable.

“If it is necessary, Cambodia will raise these issues to the UN security council and at the International Court of Justice,” Hun Sen said.

The countries have been addressing the issue bilaterally under the auspices of the Joint Border Commission (JBC), though Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said Wednesday that this mechanism may prove inadequate to solve the problems near Preah Vihear and elsewhere.

“Yesterday, Samdech Hun Sen showed clearly that Cambodia can choose a third-party approach,” Koy Kuong said. “The bilateral approach we still apply, but if it doesn’t work, we can choose another approach.”

Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said Thailand believes that disputes over the countries’ shared border are “a bilateral issue that should be solved bilaterally”.

“If the Cambodian government wishes to bring this issue to the world court or the United Nations security council, we’ll have to look at the details of what that may be,” he said.

Koy Kuong noted with frustration that the bilateral JBC negotiations have been stalled for months because the Thai parliament has yet to approve the latest round of negotiations, and he said that Bangkok has “no real willingness to solve the problem”.

“We can wait, but our patience is limited,” he said.

On Wednesday, Hun Sen ended his five-day border trip by inaugurating a new building of the Cambodian Red Cross in Preah Vihear province before returning to Phnom Penh.



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