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National Assembly in Thailand foiling demining efforts: officials

National Assembly in Thailand foiling demining efforts: officials

090709_04
RCAF soldiers conduct demining operations on the roadside near Preah Vihear temple on Monday.

Cambodian government says it needs Thai approval to demine border.

CAMBODIA is unable to demine the border with Thailand because a key bilateral agreement has yet to be approved by the Thai National Assembly, and not because the Cambodian government wants the mines to stay, Cambodian officials said at a conference on Tuesday.

"Cambodia, as a signatory country to the Ottawa Treaty, respects its regulations and fulfills its obligations ... to clear mines without reluctance,"
Prak Sokhon, secretary of state at the Council of Ministers, told an audience of international demining experts at the end of a two-day conference on Cambodia's mine clearance strategy on Tuesday.

"Mine clearing along the border will be permitted after there is a [demarcation] agreement," he said.

Var Kimhong, Cambodia's top border negotiator, told the Post Wednesday that the agreement made last April to demine from Choam Srangam to Ta Moan temple in Oddar Meanchey province has not been implemented, but that the fault lies with the Thai government.

"We have not yet implemented [the agreement] ... because [the Thai Commission on the Demarcation of the Border is] waiting for approval from their National Assembly," he said.

To clear the remaining mines in Cambodia, the government is preparing their National Mine Action Strategy for the next 10 years, a final draft of which is to be finished in September and approved by the government in December, said Chum Bunrong, secretary general of the Cambodian Mine Action Authority (CMAA).

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