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Hun Sen and Abhisit ready to meet

Hun Sen and Abhisit ready to meet

PRIME Minister Hun Sen was set to meet Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting in Belgium, officials said.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said the two were scheduled to hold a short meeting following Hun Sen’s address at the meeting’s opening session.

“I can confirm that the two premiers will meet for about 15 minutes,” Koy Kuong said.

Abhisit and Hun Sen met for the first time in almost six months in New York last month, on the sidelines of a summit between leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and United States President Barack Obama.

Relations between the two countries had been strained following Cambodia’s appointment last year of former Thai prime minister and fugitive from justice Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic adviser. With the announcement of Thaksin’s resignation in August, however, Cambodia and Thailand returned their previously withdrawn ambassadors in a sign of warming relations.

Thai state media reported that Abhisit said the talks in Belgium would focus on the countries’ ongoing border dispute.

“Asked whether he would ask Mr Hun Sen for a troop withdrawal to ease tensions when they meet at the upcoming meeting, Mr Abhisit said the Cambodian government fully realises that existing bilateral mechanisms agreed by the two countries must be approved by the Thai parliament,” MCOT news agency said Sunday.

The demarcation of the contentious border has been stalled since last year pending approval in the Thai parliament of the latest round of border negotiations. The Thai parliament again delayed a planned vote on the issue in August, to the consternation of Cambodian officials.

Hun Sen said last week at a graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh that his meeting with Abhisit in New York had been “fruitful” and had strengthened the countries’ relationship.

At the two-day Asia-Europe Meeting, set to conclude today, representatives from 46 nations converged on Brussels. These nations comprise 60 percent of the world’s population and global trade, and talks were expected to focus primarily on economic issues.

ASEM, which meets every two years, groups the European Union, ASEAN, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Pakistan and Mongolia, and new members Australia, New Zealand and Russia.

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