Accessibility links

Ties Renewed, But Doubt Remains Over Border Issue

  • Chun Sakada
  • VOA Khmer

With renewed diplomatic ties between Cambodia and Thailand, officials from opposite sides offered different views on whether the ongoing border issue can be resolved.

Cambodian officials say mutual renewal of ambassadors this week are not necessarily a positive step toward solving the issue bilaterally.

A Thai spokesman, however, said renewed ties would mean better communication over the border and could lead toward steps within the Thai government for more Joint Border Committee talks.

“I think with our ambassadors in place, it would facilitate more efficient and closer coordination and communication between both countries,” the spokesman, Thani Thongphakdi, told VOA Khmer Thursday.

Both sides replaced their ambassadors this week following withdrawals in late 2009, when Cambodia made Thailand's fugitive ex-premier, Thaksin Shinawatra, an economic adviser.

Cambodian officials are less optimistic that the ongoing border row, over a disputed piece of land west of Preah Vihear temple, will now be settled.

Thai parliament has yet to approve border measures already discussed between the Joint Border Committee, said Var Kimhong, a senior government adviser and head of Cambodia's border committee.

“I am not optimistic while [the report] has not been approved in nearly three years,” he said.

Officials said border demarcation can only begin after Thai parliament approves three agreements reached between the border committees since 2008.

“Even now that diplomatic relations are normalized, non negation can get started until Thai parliament approves these agreements,” Koy Kuong, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said.

Thai spokesman Thani said he hoped the parliamentary endorsement would come in the near future. In the meantime, he said, discussions are now underway between the two sides for a meeting between prime ministers Hun Sen and Abhisit Vejjajiva.