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Prayut visit bears fruit for Kingdom

Prime Minister Hun Sen embraces Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha after a meeting at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh yesterday.
Prime Minister Hun Sen embraces Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha after a meeting at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh yesterday. Government House of Thailand

Prayut visit bears fruit for Kingdom

Cambodia and Thailand agreed to open more border checkpoints, restart a long-delayed railway project and promote cooperation in trade and tourism yesterday.

Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, made the announcement in a joint press conference at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh.

Among other things, the two countries pledged to restart work on a long-delayed railway project to connect Phnom Penh and Bangkok that began in 2008, increase bilateral trade to $15 billion by 2020 (up from $5.6 billion in 2016), and open a drug-free “white zone” along the Cambodia-Thailand border.

Thailand will also help fund a drug rehabilitation centre in Sihanoukville that started construction last month, Hun Sen announced. The centre – a key part of Cambodia’s controversial war on drugs – is expected to cost $6 million, of which Vietnam has promised to provide $3 million.

Ministry of Social Affairs spokesman Touch Channy said the 2,000-bed treatment facility should be complete by the end of 2018.

“After construction is complete, we will be the ones who control and operate it,” Channy said.

Prayut said Thailand promised to buy more Cambodian agricultural products and would work on the migrant worker legalisation process – an issue that has affected hundreds of thousands of undocumented Cambodian workers in recent months.

“We will develop together and will never leave anyone behind,” Prayut said.

Hun Sen called the discussion “very fruitful” and said the official visit had produced “a guiding map for promoting relations between Cambodia and Thailand”.

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