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In preparation for the impending meeting between the two countries, Thai PM Samak Sundaravej has asked the military for a briefing on the disputed site of Preah Vihear (see here).

Samak asks army for full briefing on Preah Vihear
Bangkok Post, 27 February 2008
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Samak asks army for full briefing on Preah Vihear

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej has asked the army to give him a full briefing on Preah Vihear, an issue expected to be raised during his visit to Cambodia next week.

Preah Vihear is not on the agenda for Thailand, but an army source said it would likely be raised by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen during his first meeting with Mr Samak.

The prime minister is scheduled to visit Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, on Monday and Tuesday after a two-day trip to Laos beginning on Friday.

Mr Samak made his request during a 40-minute meeting with army chief Gen Anupong Paojinda and supreme commander Gen Boonsrang Niempradit at Government House on Monday, the source said.

Cambodia has asked the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) to declare the Preah Vihear Khmer temple ruins, called Khao Phra Viharn in Thai, a World Heritage site. Thailand opposes the idea because the border in the area has not been settled.

Unesco’s stance is that the two neighbours must first settle their differences.

Mr Samak told Gen Anupong and Gen Boonsrang on Monday his government was still firm on seeing the area demarcated first, the source said.

Preah Vihear straddles the border with Cambodia in Kantharalak district of Si Sa Ket.

The two countries earlier planned to hold talks on the issue this month when Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok Ann was due to visit Bangkok. However, the trip has been put off.

The Foreign Ministry has made it clear the issue could be settled and would not be allowed to damage Thailand’s ties with Cambodia.

Gen Anupong went to Cambodia yesterday to prepare for the prime minister’s visit. He is due back today.

After Cambodia, Mr Samak is due to visit Burma on March 6-7.

Mr Samak told the two generals that all cooperation schemes with neighbouring countries initiated by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra would continue. He wanted the army and the Foreign Ministry to coordinate on those projects.

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About the 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.

Website: http://www.SoutheastAsianArchaeology.com

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