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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thai FM commits to border timetable

Thai FM commits to border timetable

Thai FM commits to border timetable

THAILAND's third foreign affairs minister in seven months, Saroj Chavanavirat, was royally endorsed today, allowing the 66-year-old to replace Tej Bunnag, who resigned last week due to political pressure after just two months in office.  

Saroj told Thai media that he was committed to following his predecessor's Joint Border Commission (JBC) timetable, under which he and his Cambodian counterpart, Hor Namhong, are supposed to meet next month following pledged troop redeployments around Preah Vihear temple.

But political turmoil in Thailand - which has included the reshuffling of government and military posts and recently culminated in a state of emergency being declared in Bangkok - led Thai authorities to postpone a border-demarcation meeting that was planned for August 29 in Siem Reap.

Cambodian authorities are downplaying the difficulties of negotiating with a government in disarray.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Sin Bunthoeun said the new appointment would not change the negotiations because both sides were still working with the same facts, adding that the only real difficulty was bringing the new appointment up to speed with the relevant facts.

While Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan insisted the reshuffle was merely "inconvenient" and would not prevent the two sides from reaching an agreement, he added that the "complicated power-sharing" situation in Thailand would not let them off the hook for any missteps. "We will see aggressive acts on our border as an act by the (entire) nation."  

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