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Thai defence minister visits

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Thailand’s Defence Minister General Yuthasak Sasiprapha during a group photo at Government House in Bangkok last month.

Thailand's Defence Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha is scheduled to arrive in Phnom Penh this morning for a one-day official visit and meetings with top Cambodian government officials.

According to an itinerary, the 74-year-old will meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Cambodian counterpart Tea Banh before leaving the Kingdom early Saturday morning.

Cambodia’s ministry of defence spokesman Chhum Socheat said yesterday that there was no official agenda detailing topics to be discussed during the visit because it was an “introductory” meeting.

However, it is likely that discussions could, at the very least, broach the topic of the Thai-Cambodia border conflict, which saw deadly clashes break out earlier this year.

Last month, the Bangkok Post reported that solving the border dispute was Yuthasak Sasiprapha’s top priority.

Chhum Socheat said: “I think that this introductory visit will bring about a stronger confidence in each other in order to pave the way for further bilateral discussions of the General Border Committee and the process of withdrawing troops from both sides.”

Violence between Cambodia and Thailand reignited earlier this year in February and again in April. Heavy fighting near Ta Moan and Ta Krabey temples, at the border in Oddar Meacnhey province, left at least 28 people dead, dozens injured and tens of thousands displaced.

Following a petition by Cambodia, the United Nations’ International Court of Justice created a demilitarised zone around Preah Vihear temple on July 18, ordering both sides to remove forces from the area and allow Indonesian observers to monitor a cease-fire.

Officials from both sides have called for talks to coordinate compliance with the order.

Increasingly warm relations between Cambodia and Thailand, emerging in the wake of the newly-elected Thai administration led by Yingluck Shinawatra, have raised hope that the conflict between the two countries could be resolved.

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