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Rosewood trade must stop: PM

Rosewood trade must stop: PM

Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos to help curb the illegal trade in rosewood after Cambodia’s bloodiest year yet for logging-related border shootings.

Speaking to reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport after the premier returned from a two-day meeting of Mekong countries, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said Hun Sen had pushed the issue at the regional forum.

“In three separate meetings, Samdech Techo [Hun Sen] asked neighbouring countries to support our government’s decision to ban rosewood trading,” Namhong said, referring to a circular issued last month calling for a tougher crackdown on logg-ing and trafficking of the highly valuable wood.

That circular has been lambasted by conservationists for coming years after the species was logged to near-extinction in Cambodia.

Rights groups point to the growing body count at the Thai-Cambodian border — shooting deaths tripled last year to 45 — as evidence that loggers are having to push further into Thai territory.

“The premier has appealed to all neighbouring countries for absolutely no trading, buying and selling . . . If there are no buyers, there will be no sellers,” Namhong said.

His words followed a landmark vote on Tuesday to add Siam rosewood to an internat-ional index forbidding its sale.

Among the 177 members of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which voted to list the species, were the five Mekong states and China — Cambodia’s biggest cust-omer for the luxury wood.

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