Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Preah Vihear demarcation delay agreed

Thailand and Cambodia have agreed not to demarcate the disputed area along the border near Preah Vihear temple.
Bandhit: Hopeful of progress
However both countries will start the demarcation process from the first pillar that borders Cambodia's Oddar Meanchey province and Thailand's Surin province.
They reached the agreement yesterday at the conclusion of the two-day Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission meeting in Bangkok.
The meeting was jointly chaired by Thai delegation head Bandhit Sotipalalit and his Cambodian counterpart Var Kim Hong, who is also senior minister in charge of border affairs.
Mr Bandhit said both countries had agreed in principle to solve their border problems according to the degree of difficulty.
If the joint survey teams encountered areas on which both sides could not reach an agreement, they would skip those points and move to survey other points instead.
The countries will return to negotiations at the appropriate time, he said.
Thailand adopted a similar strategy when dealing with Laos on the same boundary demarcation issue, Mr Bandhit said.
"Bangkok and Phnom Penh have initially decided that we will not touch on troubled points such as the Preah Vihear temple as the issue is still in the [trial] process of the International Court of Justice," he said.
"But we will wait for the verdict and comply with it."
Var Kim Hong said the first thing both countries should do is to demarcate the area around Preah Vihear temple but as related documents have not been completed, the nations agreed not to demarcate this area this time.
Thailand and Cambodia have also agreed to open a new permanent border checkpoint linking Ban Nong Eian in Sa Kaeo province's Aranyaprathet district and Stung Bot of Banteay Meanchey province on March 5, said Mr Bandhit.
"Opening the checkpoint has nothing to do with the border line. Officials from both countries will still keep collecting details around the area for use in the future," he said.
The technical teams from both countries will survey pillars numbered 1-23 starting from Sa-ngam channel in Surin province that had been demarcated since the French colonial era, said Mr Bandhit.
He said this operation would start after the teams have finished their work at Stung Bot checkpoint.
Thailand and Cambodia share 798km of border, with 73 pillars.
The countries have agreed to let the technical teams determine the qualifications of companies, technical instructions and cost-sharing for developing an orthophoto map.
Mr Bandhit hopes the cordial climate between the countries will continue to help the survey and demarcation of the borderline, creating peace and prosperity for both nations.
Var Kim Hong said the meeting had helped build trust between Thailand and Cambodia.
"This is a new chapter in the two countries' relationship. The border problem is sensitive. This burden [to discuss it] is quite difficult but we will try to make this duty successful. I also hope that the trust between both countries will happen at all meeting levels," he said.