Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart, Prayuth Chan-ocha, met on the sidelines of the Greater Mekong Subregion Summit in Bangkok on Friday to discuss issues including migrant laborers and cross-border commerce, an aide to the prime minister said.
Mr. Hun Sen and General Prayuth talked about speeding up the creation of new special economic zones along the border, the opening of two new border checkpoints and giving legal status to the hundreds of thousands of Cambodians currently working in Thailand, according to Kao Kim Hourn, a minister attached to the prime minister.
Speaking to reporters at the Phnom Penh International Airport upon Mr. Hun Sen’s return to the country Saturday, Mr. Kim Hourn said the leaders discussed dispatching teams of officials to provide proper documentation to the more than 600,000 Cambodian migrants working in Thailand.
“We have seen that the Thai side welcomes our working teams who will offer legal documents to our migrant workers in order to protect [them],” he said. “Our prime minister is seeking…to offer passports to Cambodian migrant workers.”
Mr. Hun Sen also requested that Gen. Prayuth, who took control of Thailand in a coup d’etat in May, allow Cambodian experts to examine a trove of artifacts—including a number of Khmer antiquities—seized from Pongpat Chayaphan, the disgraced former head of the Thai police’s central investigation bureau.
“The prime minister also asked the Thai side to reduce the conditions” required to prove that artifacts were illegally taken from Cambodia, Mr. Kim Hourn said.
Also at the summit, China announced that it would be giving more than $3 billion in aid to the five Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) countries—Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Burma—mostly toward building roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects.
Cheng Hong Bo, spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh, said details of how the new aid package will be allocated were unavailable.
(Additional reporting by George Styllis)
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