IN their first face-to-face meeting since the resumption of full diplomatic ties last month, Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart, Abhisit Vejjajiva, pledged to scale down tensions at the countries’ contentious border and rehabilitate their strained relationship.
Speaking to reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport upon the return of the Cambodian delegation from the ASEAN-US Leaders’ Meeting in New York, Council of Ministers secretary of state Prak Sokhon said the two leaders had met for about half an hour on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
“The meeting between the two premiers this time has been constructive, and will build understanding and good relations between the neighbouring countries,” Prak Sokhon said.
Hun Sen and Abhisit will have the opportunity to speak again at next week’s Asia-Europe Meeting in Belgium, and at the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting in Vietnam in late October, Prak Sokhon said.
Abhisit said he and Hun Sen had “agreed to enhance the relations by promoting constructive activities and avoiding military confrontations, as well as fostering cooperation at ... ministerial levels”, Thai state media reported.
Relations between Thailand and Cambodia soured last year after ousted former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was appointed as an economics adviser to the Cambodian government.
Thailand withdrew its ambassador to Cambodia in protest over the appointment, and Cambodia responded in kind.
Tension flared again at a meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Brazil that concluded last month, as Cambodia submitted its management plan for Preah Vihear temple over Thai objections.
With the announcement of Thaksin’s resignation later in the month, however, officials from both governments have struck more conciliatory tones. Prak Sokhon said Abhisit and Hun Sen had agreed to boost trade at the Poipet border crossing and to verify and exchange information before issuing public statements.
During his meeting with ASEAN leaders on Friday, US President Barack Obama said he saw the region as a vital plank of his foreign policy.
“ASEAN itself has the potential to be a very positive force in global affairs,” Obama said.
The White House said Obama used the talks to raise the issue of the coming elections in Myanmar, which have been widely derided as a sham to preserve military rule. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP