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Thais delay approval of border talks

Thais delay approval of border talks

The Thai parliament has once again delayed the approval of the latest round of border negotiations between Thailand and Cambodia, a move Kingdom officials say is dragging out the countries’ long-standing boundary dispute.

After five hours of debate on Friday, the lawmakers still had yet to reach a conclusion and moved to postpone a vote on the negotiations until Tuesday, the Bangkok Post reported.

Cambodia and Thailand are in the process of demarcating their shared border under the auspices of the bilateral Joint Border Committee, though JBC negotiations have been stalled since 2009 pending approval of the latest talks by the Thai parliament.

Cambodia has repeatedly pressed for international intervention in the border dispute, appealing to the United Nations Security Council and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in recent weeks following deadly clashes between the two sides near Preah Vihear temple.

Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva reportedly appeared before the lawmakers in Bangkok on Friday to urge them to approve the negotiations.

“If we did not do anything and allowed Cambodia to claim that Thailand has not sincerely tried to hold talks through bilateral mechanisms, could you guarantee that in the future international organisations would not intervene in disputes between Thailand and Cambodia?” Abhisit reportedly said on Friday.

Var Kimhong, the Kingdom’s senior minister in charge of border affairs, said he doubted that the negotiations would be approved on Tuesday given the history of delays in Bangkok.

“They just claim that, but it never happens,” he said. “How can we believe them?”

Following clashes that left at least 10 people dead and dozens injured, Cambodia and Thailand agreed in February to hold meetings of the JBC and General Border Committee, which deals with defence issues, next month in Indonesia. Thai military officials including army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha have since expressed opposition to these meetings, however, saying they do not want third-party involvement.

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