Friday, July 8, 2011

Forward team inspects border

July 8, 2011
Source: Bangkok Post

Cambodia-Thai trade picks up after election

Indonesian embassy officials who visited the Thai-Cambodian border acknowledge Bangkok's efforts to resolve the border dispute with its neighbour peacefully, says Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi.

Mr Thani's remark came as a group of Indonesian officials yesterday completed a two-day trip to Si Sa Ket's Kantharalak district.

They are preparing the way for a possible visit to the border of a 15-member Indonesian observer team, as agreed between Thailand and Cambodia in February, following a round of border clashes.

Military officers of the Suranaree Task Force overseeing the northeastern region earlier expressed surprise at the Indonesian team's visit as the army had assumed border matters would be left for the new government to handle.

But Mr Thani said the ministry had worked with army, the defence, and interior ministries about the visit of the three diplomatic officers from the Indonesian embassy in Thailand.

''This border visit was arranged along the same lines as the one undertaken by the Indonesian embassy in Cambodia on the Cambodian side of the border in February,'' he said.

The Indonesian officials were accompanied by staff from the Foreign Ministry.

They were also briefed by the Suranaree Task Force and the 2nd Army Region about the situation along the border, said the spokesman.

The agreement allowing Indonesia to send its observers into the area was delayed because of Bangkok's condition that Cambodia withdraw its troops from the disputed area first.

An army source yesterday said that outgoing Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon had acknowledged the Indonesian officials' visit from the beginning.

He earlier approved the trip by the three Indonesian officials to inspect areas affected by the latest border clashes.

Gen Prawit yesterday declined to give any details about the survey team.

''They [Indonesian officials] were in the area?'' he said.

The team visited various places in the border district, such as Kantharalak Hospital, Phum Srol School, and villagers' houses which were damaged during the clashes.

Meanwhile, trade on the border with Cambodia has picked up since Pheu Thai's election victory.

Cambodia has welcomed the Thai election outcome, which has come as a relief to traders looking forward to an end to border hostilities.

The atmosphere along the border in Surin's Kap Choeng district turned lively yesterday with traders from the two countries ordering goods to sell at a market near Chong Jom border pass.

Earlier, border skirmishes caused trade to plummet.

Pattana Chuenyong, manager of the Chong Jom border market, said the number of tourists visiting the market had increased 20% since Sunday's election. Traders had stockpiled goods for sale, he added.

Meanwhile, Cambodia yesterday celebrated the third anniversary of the disputed Preah Vihear temple being listed as a World Heritage site.

Cambodians flocked to temples around the country to pound drums as part of the celebrations.

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