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Cambodian, Thai officials to meet for border talks in April

Cambodian, Thai officials to meet for border talks in April

Maritime boundary disputes will not be on the agenda at Siem Reap meetings, say officials.

CAMBODIAN and Thai officials are to resume formal talks to negotiate the demarcation of their shared land border in early April, officials from both countries said Wednesday. 

Representatives from both sides of the Joint Border Commission (JBC) are to meet in Siem Reap from April 5-7, said Var Kimhong, Cambodia's top border negotiator.

The schedule was confirmed by the Thai Foreign Affairs Ministry's Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs Boundary Division.

Cambodia and Thailand  have never fully demarcated their 805-kilometre shared border, although the JBC has agreed upon the location of 48 border markers out of the 73 that lie along the border.

Both sources rejected media reports that the two sides would also discuss maritime areas claimed by both sides.

The Thai State News Agency had earlier cited Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya as saying the sea border would be on the agenda.

"We have not yet fixed the date for that meeting," said Var Kimhong.

Maritime dispute

Tentative plans to demarcate the sea border had been raised when Kasit met with Cambodian Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong in January, he said.

Cambodia and Thailand both claim some 27,000 square kilometres of disputed maritime territory in the Gulf of Thailand, which is believed to contain significant oil and natural gas reserves.  

The expanse of water known as the Overlapping Claims Area, or OCA, has been the source of a contentious, decades-old dispute with Thailand that has gained a new imperative following the outbreak of last year's border dispute.

Oil experts say Cambodia is likely to resist simply splitting the area down the middle because the Thai half could hold far better prospects.

A former Thai vice admiral was cited in Thai media last July as cautioning that the recognition of Cambodian land claims would pave the way for Cambodia to assert more control over the contested waters and their anticipated riches. 

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