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Defence officials meet in Thailand

Defence officials meet in Thailand

CAMBODIAN defence officials joined their Thai counterparts on Friday and Saturday for a meeting of the General Border Committee, during which they discussed border security and economic cooperation.

Chhum Socheat, spokesman for the Ministry of Defence, said the warming relations between the two countries had laid the groundwork for a productive meeting in the Thai resort town of Pattaya.

Cambodia and Thailand normalised their relations in August following the resignation of controversial former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra from his position as economics adviser to the Cambodian government. Since then, Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva have held bilateral talks on three occasions.

Chhum Socheat said the GBC had discussed demining in border areas, maritime safety, combating terrorism and promoting trade, among other issues.

“We hope that we will be able to promote trade, tourism and anti-drug and human trafficking activities along our borders in the future,” Chhum Socheat said.

The General Border Committee is distinct from the Joint Border Committee, a bilateral body charged with formally demarcating the countries’ contested border.

JBC talks have been stalled since last year pending an approval of the latest round of negotiations in the Thai parliament, though this approval could come during a parliamentary session this week.

Srey Doek, commander of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Division 3 stationed near Preah Vihear temple, said relations between troops at the front line had been steadily improving, and that the two sides had begun playing sports together on a daily basis.

Tea Banh falls ill Meanwhile, Defence Minister Tea Banh was hospitalised in Thailand following the meeting due to pain caused by gallstones, and will remain there for treatment for the next few days, defence offcials said.

“General Tea Banh experienced stomach pain after a dinner party on October 30, and he was then sent for a medical checkup and treatment at a hospital in Thailand,” Chhum Socheat said.

“Tea Banh’s health condition is not serious, but he needs to stay there for at least a few more days in order to check his health and get treatment. I think he will be coming back to Cambodia soon.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP

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