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Ban to visit Cambodia

Ban to visit Cambodia

Hun Sen seeks talks over dispute

PRIME Minister Hun Sen said yesterday that he planned to discuss the Preah Vihear border dispute with Ban Ki-moon when the United Nations secretary general visited Phnom Penh later this year.

In remarks at a meeting on the protection of the Tonle Sap lake at the Ministry of Water Resources yesterday, the premier said that Ban Ki-moon would come to Cambodia for an official visit.

“I will talk [about the border dispute] with Ban Ki-moon on October 27-28 when he visits here,” Hun Sen said.

“I will seek a compromise from the UN representative.
“Thailand should not be afraid of international intervention … and if Thailand is afraid, it means Thailand does not have good intentions.

“Real gold is never afraid of fire.”
A statement from the Thai government’s public relations department on Wednesday said Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva would meet Ban during
a trip to New York next month.

Abhisit planned to “clarify the Thai-Cambodian rift resulting from the registration of the Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage site” and “discuss with Mr Ban an exit for the dispute”, the statement said.

Margaret Lamb, a spokeswoman for the UN in Phnom Penh, and Farhan Haq, an associate spokesman for the UN secretary general in New York, said they could not confirm Ban’s visit to Cambodia.

Thai ministry of foreign affairs deputy spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said yesterday that Thailand’s position on the issue was “unchanged in that we believe that any outstanding issues between Thailand and Cambodia should be addressed bilaterally within the existing mechanisms”.

In a speech on Monday, Hun Sen called for an international conference to resolve the ongoing border dispute, saying that the existing bilateral mechanisms were not working. A day earlier, he wrote to the UN Security Council and General Assembly to denounce comments printed in Bangkok’s The Nation newspaper in which Abhisit reportedly contemplated the use of military force at the border.

“No Thai prime ministers have ever spoken of using armed force against Cambodia, only Abhisit Vejjajiva,” Hun Sen said yesterday.

“This matter is very serious, and it looks down on the Cambodian people as well as [abuses] the UN Charter.”

The Thai government has since said Abhisit’s comments were misquoted and “taken out of context”.

The dispute between Thailand and Cambodia stretches back to July 2008, when Preah Vihear temple was listed as a World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. Both countries claim a 4.6-square-kilometre zone adjacent to the temple.

The latest round of bilateral antagonism came to a head after a meeting of UNESCO’S World Heritage Committee in Brazil that concluded earlier this month.

The Cambodian delegation to the meeting submitted a management plan for Preah Vihear that will be discussed by the committee next year.

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