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Hun Sen and Thai PM meet at summit's end

PRIME Minister Hun Sen met Thai Premier Abhisit Vejjajiva on Wednesday at the close of several summits held to solidify regional cooperation on economic development.

The two leaders, who in the past have traded barbs in the press, reportedly focused their discussion on areas of agreement. The talks were the latest in a series of meetings between the two since diplomatic relations were normalised in August following the resignation of ousted former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra from his position as economics adviser to the Cambodian government.

“What we are trying to do now is build up trust”, Abhisit said yesterday. “In my discussion with Hun Sen, we agreed that we should give priority to areas of cooperation where there’s no conflict, so that we can build up this trust and confidence. We can deal with the difficult issues later.”

Ahead of the bilateral talks, Hun Sen said Abhisit’s attendance at the Ayeyaway-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy summit on Wednesday was a “symbol of cooperation between neighbouring countries”. ACMECS also includes Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

“Now is the time to strengthen, to improve the relationship, to minimise the dispute and expand cooperation to be broader, not just in a bilateral framework, but also in a multilateral framework,” Hun Sen said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Also on  Wednesday, Cambodia and Thailand signed an agreement that exempts citizens holding ordinary passports from visa requirements for visits of two weeks or less.

Abhisit and Hun Sen agreed to continue negotiations over their countries’ ongoing border dispute through the bilateral Joint Border Committee, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said. These negotiations were delayed once again earlier this month when the Thai parliament, rather than approving the JBC’s latest agreements,  voted to create a committee to examine them over a 30-day period.

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