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Defence ministers to meet

Defence ministers to meet

Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh is set to carry out sideline talks with his Thai counterpart Prawit Wongsuwon at a regional summit starting tomorrow, in the latest diplomatic effort to follow April’s deadly border clashes.

Ta Banh is set to leave for Indonesia today to take part in the two-day Association of Southeast Asean Nations defence ministers’ summit in Jakarta.

Lieutenant-general Chhum Socheat, spokesman for Ministry of Defence, said yesterday that “as planned the two defence ministers will meet” in talks mediated by ASEAN chair Indonesia. He would not reveal specific topics to be tabled but said the ASEAN meeting would review developments in the region, including security issues.      

The talks follow a series of high-level meets between both sides after deadly fighting broke out at the Thai-Cambodian border in both February and April. The latest hostilities claimed at least 18 lives.

Earlier this month, Cambodia’s Foeign Minister Hor Namhong met with Thailand’s Kasit Piromya to set out a six-point plan to allow neutral observers to the border.

Although the agreement was brokered, Thai officials have repeatedly quibbled over the terms of reference for their deployment and have asked for Cambodia to withdraw its troops from territory adjacent to Preah Vihear that is claimed by both sides.

Cambodia has strongly rejected the demand. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Hun Sen blasted it as “irrational and unacceptable” for a foreign country to demand the withdrawal of troops from what Cambodia sees as its territory.

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