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US official backs border meetings: FM

US official backs border meetings: FM

Cambodia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday that a visiting United States Department of State official expressed US support for brokered talks with Thailand over recent hostilities along the two countries’ shared border.

Joseph Yun, deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, met yesterday with Foreign Minister Hor Namhong to discuss a range of issues including US humanitarian aid and ongoing border tensions with Thailand, Koy Kuong said.

“The deputy assistant secretary said that the US supported Indonesia’s proposed role as observers as well as ASEAN involvement in resolving the border dispute,” Koy Kuong said.

“He said that both Cambodia and Thailand are friends of the US, and therefore the US supports previous and ongoing talks.”

Koy Kuong said Wednesday that a meeting of the General Border and Joint Border committees scheduled for March 23-25 in Bogor, Indonesia, would be delayed until April 7-8 because of scheduling conflicts.

The meetings were proposed by Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalagawa in order to ease border tensions following violent clashes last month that left at least 10 dead and dozens injured on both sides.

Koy Kuong said yesterday that Thailand has yet to formally announce their intention to participate in the talks, though Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was quoted last week by the Bangkok Post as saying that the talks were a starting point for easing tensions.

He added that the border dispute has been exacerbated by a failure by Thailand to accept a common frame of reference for discussions about the border.

“The complication is that Thailand has continued to use a map that is not recognised by the international community,” Koy Kuong said.

Prime Minster Hun Sen on Monday appealed to Indonesia to send unarmed military observers to the Cambodian side of the border to safeguard a permanent ceasefire.

Thailand has yet to accept the formal terms of reference for the observers.

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