Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thai foreign minister to seek bilateral talks on border: statement

Thai foreign minister to seek bilateral talks on border: statement

Thai foreign minister to seek bilateral talks on border: statement

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya will lead a state visit beginning Monday to spearhead renewed negotiations over border dispute.

PAST SUCCESS

A meeting between Hor Namhong and then-Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat in November last year saw a reduction in troop levels along both sides of the border. Since then, political instability in Thailand has hindered further negotiations.

THAI Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya will lead an official delegation to Cambodia beginning Monday to promote bilateral border negotiations between the two nations' prime ministers, a press release from the Cambodian Foreign Ministry announced Thursday.

Kasit will meet King Norodom Sihamoni and leaders of the ruling Cambodian People's Party in advance of border discussions with Deputy Prime

Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, the press release stated.

The foreign ministers are expected to address ongoing border conflicts ahead of future discussions between Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart Abhisit Vejjajiva in Thailand during the forthcoming Asean Summit, which runs from February 27 to March 1.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Khuong told the Post Thursday that the Thai delegation's visit aimed to strengthen cooperation between the two countries, as well as to address border concerns and other issues of mutual concern.

Hun Sen said Tuesday during an address in Oddor Meanchey province that he would not address border issues during the Asean Summit, but added that bilateral negotiations with the Thai premier were forthcoming.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy questioned whether discussions between the heads of state would produce any tangible results.

"Bilateral negotiations cannot resolve matters. Our country is smaller than neighbouring ones, so if we face a neighbour that is larger than us, it is impossible to solve the dispute," Sam Rainsy told the Post Thursday.

"Until the international community steps in to defend Cambodia, we must defend our territorial integrity," he added.

Heang Rithy, president of the Cambodian National Research Organisation, said bilateral negotiations could succeed only if Thailand initiates them and says the country has acted as an invader.

"If Cambodia asks to negotiate, this is not effective and will not end the conflict," he said.

"If Thailand confesses that it has made a mistake, then we can negotiate in accordance with international law and without the UN. But if Thailand continues to be obstinate, only the UN will be able to resolve the conflict," he said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Khuong said Cambodia will continue to pursue a bilateral solution to the conflict.

"What we have done before, we will continue to do. We will maintain our bilateral stance so that we can talk together. If this path does not work, we will seek a third-party solution," he said.

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