Cambodia urges Thailand to hold border talks


BANGKOK, Aug 11 – Thai Defence Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa on Thursday said Thailand has agreed to convene a meeting of the General Border Committee by late August at the request of his Cambodian counterpart. 

Speaking to reporters before attending the first cabinet meeting at Government House, retired Gen Yutthasak said the Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Tea Banh sent a letter inviting him to pay an official visit to Cambodia. An hour later, his Cambodian counterpart telephoned asking him to hold a GBC meeting to resolve the border dispute.

Gen Yuttisak said he agreed to move ahead on the request once the government delivers its policy statement to Parliament.

The government is scheduled to announce policy statement to parliament within 15 days after taking office.

Prior to the GBC meeting, both sides will have a preparatory meeting of Regional Border Committee (RBC) in Thailand’s northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima, Gen Yutthasak said.

“Gen Tea Banh told me that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen wanted the two countries’ defence ministries to hold border talks first,” the Thai defence minister said, adding that he believed after the meeting the situation will gradually improve and he would pave the way for a summit between Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her counterpart.

Gen Yutthasak said if the GBC meets in Phnom Penh, he will use the opportunity to have an audience with the Cambodian king and make a courtesy call on Prime Minister Hun Sen and his defence minister.

“The border talks will focus on reducing troops at the border, allowing both Thais and Cambodians living along the border area to lead a normal life. That will be a win-win situation for us both,” the Thai defence minister said.

“The talks will be amicable as Cambodia has made the first move. I will do my best in the negotiations to make both sides happy,” Gen Yutthasak affirmed.