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Cambodia, Thailand Sign Visa Exemption

Cambodian and Thai flag poles on the Gulf of Thailand at Koh Kong-Trat border crossing between the two countries. The new visa exemption agreement raises hopes of increased trade and tourism between the two neighbors.

Cambodia and Thailand signed an agreement on Wednesday that will allow their citizens to cross back and forth across borders without a visa.

The visa exemption is for passport holders only, and will be added to agreements Cambodia already has with most other Asean members, excepting Brunei and Burma.

The signing took place during a summit of five Mekong River countries and comes on the heels of major diplomatic tension between Cambodian and Thailand this year.

“Now is the time to strengthen and promote a good relationship between the two nations, by narrowing our disputes and widening resolutions and cooperation,” Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday.

Officials said they hoped the exemption would boost tourism. Around 60,000 Thai tourists have visited Cambodia in the first nine months of 2010, a drop of 9 percent from the same period last year.