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Border Advocates Grow Impatient With Dispute

The border dispute between Cambodian and Thailand has gone on for more than a year, with the Cambodian government failing to adopt a “winning” method based on international law, border experts said Thursday.

“That with which we can win is through the International Court and international law, but until now [the government] has not filed, and that’s why it is continuing,” said Sean Pengse, head of an advocacy group called the Border Committee, in France.

Cambodia has insisted on solving its long-running border dispute bilaterally, but negotiations over contested areas near Preah Vihear temple have failed to bring a result, with troops on both sides amassed on each side of the frontier.

Hean Yuth, a Cambodian-American who closely follows Cambodia’s border issues, said Wednesday he did not understand why the government has not invoked the Paris Peace Accords, which its stipulations of sovereignty, and the International Court at the Hague to file a complaint.

Chanly Kuch, a Cambodian-American who also follows border issues, said Preah Vihear should not pose a problem, as the International Court awarded it to Cambodia in 1962.

However, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the government was seeking to resolve the border issues peacefully. Both countries are obliged to base talks on laws, and if there are points that can’t be agreed on, Cambodia could bring the issue to the Hague.

“Not to make a new judgment, but just to review,” he said, adding that Cambodia was being patient as Thailand struggles with internal political problems.

Cambodian and Thailand have had border problems for decades, with sections of the boundary going unmarked. Tensions rose sharply in July 2008, after Preah Vihear temple was listed as a Unesco World Heritage site under Cambodia. Skirmishes between troops from both sides have left at least seven people dead.

Cambodians living in France are planning a demonstration for Oct. 25, to press Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand to follow the Paris Peace Accords on border issues. A petition will be submitted to the French president.

Passengers arriving to Cambodia by air are expected to increase by around 5 percent in 2010, the country’s airport management company said Wednesday.

“In the past month or two, we can really feel that there is an improvement in the economic climate of the country,” Nicolas Deviller, CEO of Societe Concessionaire de l’Aeroport, which operates Cambodia’s airports, told reporters.

The number of flights to Cambodia is also expected to increase next year, by about 2.5 percent, he said.

Kong Sophearak, director of the Ministry of Tourism’s statistics and information department, said the ministry expected a similar increase. This will be due in part to the addition of a national Cambodian carrier, Angkor Air, and new routes from foreign companies.

The ministry expects the number of visitors to reach 2.35 million in 2010, up from 2.12 million in 2008.