Pattaya Daily News

29 December 2011 :: 12:12:24 pm 60985

Thai Foreign Minister visits Cambodia

BANGKOK, Dec 29 -- Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs Surapong Tovichakchaikul left Thailand for Cambodia Thursday morning to strengthen bilateral ties and prepare for the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) meeting which will resume soon.
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Mr Surapong told reporters at Suvarnabhumi Airport that during his two-day visit, he will meet his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong to follow up agreements made during Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s visit to Phnom Penh in September.

The Thai foreign minister will discuss preparations for the Thai-Cambodian boundary meeting which is expected to resume soon and also ask for clarification from Cambodia on the Dec 15 shooting incident when Cambodian troops fired on a Thai helicopter in order to better understand the circumstances.

The Royal Thai Navy helicopter was shot in mid-air while delivering food to a military base situated near the Cambodian border in Trat province. No one was injured but the helicopter was slightly damaged and was forced to make an emergency landing.

Mr Surapong said he would seek more details on the latest developments regarding two Thai activists jailed in Cambodia for espionage charges after their Cambodian lawyer yesterday withdrew their appeal against the verdict of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court of First Instance, opening the way to seek a royal pardon from the Cambodian king.

The minister said the Thai foreign ministry would try its best to help them but it also depended on Cambodian procedures.

Veera Somkwamkid, a leader of the People’s Network against Corruption and a high-profile activist in the Thai Patriots Network, and his secretary Ratree Pipatanapaiboon were arrested on Dec 29 last year, along with five others including then Democrat Party Member of Parliament Panich Vikitsreth, after they illegally entered Cambodian territory to observe the border demarcation process.

The five were released in late January after Cambodian court suspended their sentences of nine months in jail.

A Cambodian court on Feb 1 ruled that the duo were guilty of espionage, illegal entry, and trespassing in a military zone. Mr Veera was sentenced to an eight-year jail term and a 1.8 million riel (US$450) fine while Ms Ratree was handed a six-year jail term and a 1.2 million riel (US$300) fine.

Meanwhile, Minister of Energy Pichai Naripthaphan said earlier that he would accompany Mr Surapong to Cambodia and expected to resume negotiations with Cambodia on a plan for joint development of the two countries overlapping maritime claims in the Gulf of Thailand.

Mr Pichai said the two sides should further discuss whether to honour the 2001 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). He said the ministry wanted the talks to resume as soon as possible for the energy security and mutual benefit of both Thailand and Cambodia.

The two countries agreed the MoU on their overlapping maritime claims to the continental shelf in June 2001, setting out the agreed area to be delimited and an agreed joint development area (JDA) with the Joint Technical Committee (JTC) as the principal negotiation mechanism.

The objective of the negotiation framework is to resolve the issue of the maritime area subjected to the overlapping claims areas (OCA) of both countries, approximately 26,000 square kilometres.

Negotiations took place from 2001 to 2007 and resulted in two alternate proposals for mutual development: Cambodia’s break-through proposal and Thailand’s three-zone proposal.

However, the official talks became stalemated during the former Thai government under Abhisit Vejjajiva administration as bilateral ties faced rocky relations.

Report by : MCOT

Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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