New border talks commence

Cambodia and Thailand return to th negotiation today after the last month saw firefights erupt at the Unesco World Heritage Site of Preah Vihear which claimed at least four fatalities. While the commitment to negotiation is heartening, optimism for a resolution is low as both sides reportedly cannot even agree on using the same map to discuss the extent of the border.

Temple talks
Bangkok Post, 10 November 2008

fter deadly violence on the border and an ongoing diplomatic spat over the area near the Preah Vihear temple, Thailand and Cambodia move to the negotiating table for two days – a meeting of the Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) in Siem Reap.

The talks beginning on Monday aim to end the dispute over land near the temple, but Foreign Ministry Officials say early agreement is unlikely.

At the centre of the dispute is sovereignty over a 4.6-square-kilometre area between Kantharalak district in Si Sa Ket province and Preah Vihear province in Cambodia, adjacent to the ancient Khmer temple.

Foreign Ministry officials agree the issue will not be settled at a single round of talks because the two sides cannot even agree on which map to use. They both use different maps as the basis for their negotiations.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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