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Yingluck to Cambodia

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who came to power last month on the back of a landslide electoral victory in July, is set to arrive in Cambodia on September 15 for her first official meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Cambodian officials have enthusiastically welcomed the triumph of Yingluck – the youngest sister of former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra – and expressed hope that the change at Thailand’s Government House will renew ties and resolve the long-standing border conflict.

Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a fellow at Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, said there were three possible items for the meeting’s agenda: resolving the conflict surrounding Preah Vihear; joint development of oil reserves in the Gulf of Thailand; and, perhaps,  negotiations for the release of two Thai Yellow Shirt activists jailed for espion-age earlier this year.

“I think there will be a positive outcome out of this meeting,” Pavin said. “I am not sure if she could succeed [in] all, but she has to prove that she is able to mend ties with Cambodia.”

Government officials were more tight-lipped on what would be discussed.

“I don’t know what issues would be raised by Yingluck, but of course she will pay a courtesy visit to Samdech Techo [Hun Sen],”  Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said.

Thai government spokeswoman Titima Chaisang said  the agenda for the meeting was still in the works.

“It’s only the introductory visit,” she said. “Nothing else.”

Titima said Yingluck, a businesswoman, “just wants to encourage or expand the economies of both countries”.

Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul would join Yingluck on the trip and take part in discussions between the two prime ministers, Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said.

Yingluck is also expected to visit Brunei and Indonesia, the current Assoc-iation of Southeast Asian Nations chair, on her regional tour.

The announcement follows media reports that Thai Defence Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha plans to visit Cambodia on September 23 and 24 to discuss troop placements and preparat-ions for an expected meeting of the General Border Committee, a bilateral body set up to discuss border security.

Cambodian and Thai forces engaged in heavy fighting near Preah Vihear temple in February and again in April near Ta Moan and Ta Krabey temples, at the border in Oddar Meanchey province.

Following a petition by Cambodia, the International Court of Justice created a demilitarised zone around Preah Vihear temple on July 18.

The court ordered both sides to remove all forces from the area and allow observers from Indonesia to monitor a cease-fire. Officials from both sides have called for talks to co-ordinate compliance with the order.

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