Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had held a closed-door discussion with his Thai counterpart Yingluck Shinawatra after she arrived in Phnom Penh yesterday and the two had agreed to wide-ranging co-operation on trade, tourism, oil and gas in the Overlapping Claims Area, the Preah Vihear border and the imprisonment of two Thai nationals for spying, high-ranking Cambodian officials said.
Khieu Kanharith, Cambodia’s Minister of Information and spokesman for the government, told reporters about an hour after the meeting that Yingluck’s visit was a mission to bring the two countries closer together.
“The visit of Yingluck was a mission to restore diplomatic ties,” he said.
Hor Namhong, Cambodia’s Foreign Minister, told reporters that Yingluck and Hun Sen wanted to see Cambodian and Thai soldiers keep holding meetings with each other to develop a good environment and relationship before the deployment of Indonesian observers to the demilitarised zone created by the International Court of Justice in July.
“We can say that the negotiation was successful and in a good atmosphere, there was mutual understanding and we agreed to do whatever to continue facilitating all fields of co-operation for development,” Nor Namhong said.
“Samdach [Hun Sen] said Cambodia cannot withdraw troops from the 4.6 kilometre square area, and we will keep this issue for the ICJ. If the ICJ judges that the area belongs to Thailand, Cambodia will offer it to Thailand.”
Hor Namhong also said the Cambodian government would not be able to release jailed Thai pair Veera Somkwamkid and Ratree Pipattanapaiboon.
“Yingluck also raised the issue of the two Thais who are imprisoned in Cambodia, and Samdach [Hun Sen] said the government was monitoring the case. We would request the King for a reduction in their jail terms step by step, but they have to obey Cambodia’s laws and serve two-thirds of the jail term,” he said.
Hun Sen had asked Yingluck to resume public negotiations on the OCA, based on the memorandum of understanding signed in 2001 and using existing mechanisms, Hor Namhong said.
He added that more border gates with Thailand would need to be opened for the flow of trade and tourism.
A Joint Border Committee meeting between Cambodia and Thailand chaired by the two foreign ministers will be held in February, 2012, which will resume negotiations in every field of bilateral cooperation.
Yingluck was also granted an audience with King Norodom Sihamoni and had dinner with Hun Sen before leaving for Bangkok last night.
According to a statement obtained by the Post yesterday, Thai government spokeswoman Thitima Chaisaeng told Thai reporters before Yingluck’s departure from Bangkok that her visit was the beginning of a new and open relationship between the two countries, and there would be more co-operation on trade.