meeting between new Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej instead focused on growing anger over killings of Cambodian immigrant workers
- From: Chim <ChimS1@xxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 3 Mar 2008 12:09:29 -0800 (PST)
Cambodia-Thai meeting focuses on border killings - Summary
Posted : Mon, 03 Mar 2008 16:09:13 GMT
Phnom Penh - It was expected to be a showdown about a disputed border
temple, but the meeting between new Thai Prime Minister Samak
Sundaravej instead focused on growing anger over killings of Cambodian
immigrant workers, a spokesman said Monday. Government spokesman Khieu
Kanharith told reporters at a press conference that Samak's two-day
visit at Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's invitation had been
cordial - but issues of disputed sea borders and border killings of
itinerant Cambodians had come up.
So too had the Preah Vihear temple problem, he said, but Thailand and
Cambodia had spoken reasonably on the controversial move to make the
temple perched on the two nations' border a UNESCO World Heritage site
for Cambodia - a proposal Thailand has objected to.
As a newly-elected leader, Samak's visit to neighbouring nations has
become a tradition for new leaders of the 10-member Association of
South East Asian Nations, of which both countries are members.
Kanharith said talks focused on the disputed sea borders between both
nations instead, with Cambodia looking to make its claims to territory
legal before expected rich offshore oil reserves are tapped within two
Also on the table were Cambodian allegations that Thailand uses undue
force in controlling Cambodian immigrant workers to Thailand, which
results in at least a dozen shooting deaths at the hands of Thai
border patrols per year, according to border police.
"Please, do not use unnecessary violence (on the borders) because it
could disturb the Cambodian people," Kanharith warned. "Thailand has
full rights to control illegal immigrants, but Thailand should also
respect human rights."
He said although the Preah Vihear temple had been discussed, Cambodia
stood firm that the northern border temple belonged to it and it was
Cambodia's right to ask for World Heritage rights.
The issue is a controversial one in both nations. On Monday, the
nationalistic Student Movement for Democracy issued a statement
demanding Hun Sen refuse to speak with Samak regarding Preah Vihear,
citing the 1962 ruling by the International Court of Justice in the
Hague that Preah Vihear temple belongs to Cambodia.
That movement's leader, Kein Sara, was briefly imprisoned in 2003 for
his alleged role in the anti-Thai riots in Phnom Penh. Angry mobs had
burned the Thai embassy and Thai businesses after a Thai actress was
said to have claimed another cultural icon, the Angkor Wat temple
complex, was Thai. Sara was quickly released.
Although allies, tensions between the neighbouring nations go back
centuries. However issues including cultural ownership, Cambodia's
possible impending new oil wealth and other border issues have
On Monday Kanharith said the oil field border dispute had been
discussed extensively by Hun Sen and Samat, and Thailand had been
urged to be less inflexible, allowing a "win-win situation between our
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