Another delay in Thailand for border meeting records

A Thai government committee tasked with scrutinizing records of meetings on the contentious Thai-Cambodia border has received 90 extra days to report back to the Thai Parliament after the committee’s original deadline elapsed yesterday, a Thai official said yesterday.

Also yesterday, a Cambodian official said that plans to reopen the Thai border crossing to Preah Vihear temple this month had been indefinitely delayed because of Thai requests, which included dividing ticket sales for the temple between Thai and Cambodian authorities.

Thailand’s Parliament, which has long delayed approval of the three previous Joint Border Commission meeting minutes, created a committee on Nov 2 to examine the records and report back in 30 days. Thani Thongphakdi, a spokesman for the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said yesterday that the committee’s mandate had been extended by 90 days.

Var Kimhong, chairman of the Cambodian border commission, said the delay in approval was holding up demarcation of the disputed border. “They always delay the issue,” Mr Kimhong said.

The border crossing near Preah Vihear temple has been closed since June 2008, when fighting erupted around the 11th-century temple. Hang Soth, secretary-general of the National Authority for Preah Vihear, said yesterday that this month’s expected opening of the border crossing had been delayed.

“Thais wanted vendors to sell goods in our market, but we completely turned it down,” Mr Soth said, adding that Thailand also wanted to divide ticket sales with Cambodian authorities.

Mr Soth also said five unarmed Thai soldiers who had been stationed at Wat Keosekha Kirisvarak moved yesterday to the base of the great staircase after an agreement between Thai and Cambodian authorities.

Authorities have prevented all tourists from visiting Preah Vihear temple since Nov 29 because of negotiations to withdraw troops from the area, according to Rath Sophear, director of the information department for Preah Vihear province.

“Authorities will allow people to visit soon,” said Mr Sophear.

Separately, the Council of Ministers announced in a statement yesterday that five firms had been invited to bid to map the 1,270-km border with Vietnam.

The planned map is the result of an agreement between Vietnam and Cambodia and is to be finished by Aug 2012. Mr Kimhong estimated it would cost anywhere from $1 million to $4 million.

   (Additional reporting by Eang Mengleng)

 

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