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Hun Sen, Abhisit talks on the agenda

THAI Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday that he was ready to discuss border issues with Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Asia-Europe Meeting in Brussels in October.

The comments came after Thursday’s announcement by the Foreign Ministry that Hun Sen was willing to raise the border dispute in accordance with the suggestion of ASEAN secretary general Surin Pitsuwan.

“I’m ready to talk with Prime Minister Hun Sen concerning the Thai-Cambodian conflict together with the Preah Vihear temple issue at the ASEM,” Abhisit said. “It is not necessary to bring other organisations to deal with the Thai-Cambodian row since the two countries are well aware that they are neighbouring countries, and I believe both of us don’t want the problem to escalate.”

Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong reiterated yesterday that if Abhisit requested a meeting with Hun Sen during the October 4-5 summit, then it could proceed, but he said a meeting had not yet been confirmed.

Cambodia is still wondering why Thailand is afraid to put the border issue on the table multilaterally.

On Thursday, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya wrote to ASEAN chair Vietnam, saying that the lingering border dispute – which dates back to July 2008, when Preah Vihear temple was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – could be solved by bilateral talks.
“I wish to assure you that Thailand remains committed as always to exercising utmost restraint,” Kasit said in the letter, which came after a similar letter from Hor Namhong calling for ASEAN mediation to prevent “large-scale armed conflict” over the border dispute.

He went on to “categorically reject” Hor Namhong’s allegations that Thailand had taken an aggressive stance over the border issue.

But Koy Kuong said that despite its stated commitment to bilateral negotiations, Bangkok had always found a way to delay talks.

“Cambodia is still wondering why Thailand is afraid to put the border issue on the table multilaterally,” he said. “Thailand repeatedly says [it wants] bilateral talks with Cambodia, but its willingness is nothing.”

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