Cambodia, Thailand Agree Outline Border Plan

SIEM REAP ~ Thailand and Cambodia agreed in principle on Wednesday to reduce troops and use a century-old survey map to help resolve a long-running border dispute.

The agreement between Cambodian foreign minister Hor Namhong and his Thai counterpart Sompong Amornviwat was the result of three days of negotiations.

They said they would make a priority of delineating the border area around 11th century Preah Vihear temple, where troops have been in a standoff since July, and will use a 1907 French colonial survey map to do so.

However the Thai foreign minister said his country’s parliament would first need to approve both actions, which could help defuse tension and resolve competing territorial claims.

“Only two small issues remain, but I need a decision from (the) Thai parliament,” Sompong told reporters in a press conference at the conclusion of talks between the two countries in the Cambodian tourist hub Siem Reap.

Cambodia’s Hor Namhong said: “This is a clear and quick step forward. The delineation of the border at Preah Vihear will start from mid-December.”

Another round of negotiations will take place in January, the foreign ministers added, but the two countries will also form a border task force that will stay in constant contact to avoid more conflict.

Shortly after similar talks between the foreign ministers failed last month, troops from the two countries clashed on October 15 on disputed land near the ancient Khmer temple, killing one Thai and three Cambodians.

The Cambodian-Thai border has never been fully demarcated, in part because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia.

The most recent tensions began in July when the Khmer temple was awarded United Nations World Heritage status, rekindling a long-running disagreement over ownership of the surrounding land.

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