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PM calls for more dialogue at border

PM calls for more dialogue at border

121218 02
A Cambodian soldier walks by the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple near the Thai-Cambodian border earlier this year. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

IN A year marked by a string of fatal shootings of Cambodian loggers who illegally crossed into Thai territory, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday appealed to officials on both sides of the border to do more to quell violence.

“Do not fight each other. If you have a problem, you should talk with each other. That is good enough,” the premier said during the inauguration of a special economic zone in Koh Kong province.

Speaking to a group of officials from both sides of the border, Hun Sen urged co-operation between the two countries, warning that the  perception of instability could be enough ward off potential investors.

“I want to see this. I want to see good peace-building along the border. This is what both people want, so we can continue to co-operate with each other in order to allow those on both sides of the border to work and do business together,” he said.

The vice director of the Cambodian-Thai border relations office, Sek Samorn, said yesterday that he supported the premier’s appeal, but he was concerned the Thai side would be unlikely to heed suggestions made by their Cambodian counterparts.

“Both parties should stop using violence against each other, because we do not want to see anyone die or get injured anymore,” he said.

While figures have not been updated, border officials said yesterday that, as of July, 38 Cambodians had been shot to death along the Thai-Cambodian border. Dozens others have been injured or arrested. All had crossed into Thai territory while illegally logging highly prized luxury rosewood, officials said.  

Also yesterday, senior officials from the Ministry of Defence left for Bangkok to convene for the third time on the redeployment of military personnel in the Provisional Demilitarised Zone at Preah Vihear temple.

Neang Phat, secretary of state at the Ministry of Defence and head of Cambodia’s Joint Working Group, will sit down with his Thai counterpart, Worapong Sanganetra, the joint chief of staff of the Royal Thai army, during the meeting.

In July, both sides agreed to withdraw approximately 500 troops from the contested area surrounding the temple following a court order by the International Court of Justice.  ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY Vong Sokheng

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