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09BANGKOK209 THAI-CAMBODIAN BORDER DISPUTE: THAI FM KASIT’S VISIT TO CAMBODIA PRODUCES OPTIMISTIC STATEMENTS

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“188955”,”1/27/2009 10:28″,”09BANGKOK209″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

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“C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 000209

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/27/2019

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PBTS, TH, CB

SUBJECT: THAI-CAMBODIAN BORDER DISPUTE: THAI FM KASIT\’S

VISIT TO CAMBODIA PRODUCES OPTIMISTIC STATEMENTS

 

Classified By: DCM James F. Entwistle, reasons 1.4 (b, d).

 

1. (U) Summary: A January 26 visit to Cambodia by Thai FM

Kasit Piromya produced positive statements by both sides

regarding the ongoing border dispute centered on territory

around the Preah Vihear temple. Kasit met Cambodian Prime

Minister Hun Sen and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong; press

reports indicated that the two sides agreed to hold Joint

Border Commission (JBC) talks to discuss border demarcation

and Defense Minister meetings to discuss the number of troops

stationed along the border in early February. The two sides

also agreed to hold talks in March regarding overlapping

maritime claims in the Gulf of Thailand.

 

2. (C) Comment: Before his appointment as Foreign Minister in

late 2008, Kasit had made critical comments concerning

previous Thai governments\’ actions regarding the Preah Vihear

border dispute during rallies by the then anti-government

People\’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD). Kasit had also been

critical of Hun Sen personally. Because of these comments,

many observers were skeptical of Kasit\’s ability to work well

with Cambodian leaders to solve the border dispute. FM

Kasit\’s apparently productive introductory visit appears to

have addressed these concerns, and demonstrated that the

relationship Kasit developed with Hun Sen during the 1989-91

Paris Peace Conference as fellow negotiators remains an asset

that could prove useful during coming border talks. End

Summary and Comment.

 

FM KASIT TO PHNOM PENH – BETTER THAN EXPECTED?

——————————————— –

 

3. (U) Media reports indicated that Thai Foreign Minister

Kasit Piromya\’s January 26 visit to Phnom Penh resulted in

positive developments in the ongoing Thai-Cambodian border

dispute. Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong and Kasit

reportedly agreed that Thailand and Cambodia would resolve

the border dispute \”quickly through peaceful means.\” The

Foreign Ministers were also reported to have agreed that Thai

Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan would visit Cambodia

February 6 to discuss with Cambodian Defense Minister Tea

Banh the redeployment of soldiers stationed at the temple.

The Foreign Ministers reportedly also agreed that the JBC

would meet February 2-4 to discuss the border dispute and to

have a technical commission look at a maritime dispute. The

maritime talks are planned for March. Kasit publicly quoted

Hun Sen as saying it was the two countries\’ joint duty and

responsibility to move Thai-Cambodian relations forward for

the well-being of ASEAN.

 

4. (C) Note: Agreement to work out the Thai-Cambodian

maritime dispute in the Gulf of Thailand could be important,

since significant gas and oil reserves reportedly may be

found in the area of the overlapping claims. Joint

exploration by Thailand and Malaysia of an analogous area in

the Gulf of Thailand, setting aside previously acrimonious

debate over fixing the Thai-Malay maritime boundary, has been

mutually beneficial to both countries. End note.

 

5. (C) MFA East Asian Affairs Department Deputy

Director-General Pisanu Suvanajata, who accompanied Kasit,

told us January 27 that the visit had been much more

productive than the Thai had expected. Cambodian leaders

appeared to focus on creating an atmosphere for constructive

engagement between the two countries, rather than resorting

to the often fiery rhetoric that characterized public

statements in 2008. Cambodian officials had also

demonstrated flexible positions on all issues, and

discussions at all levels had been smooth and fruitful,

Pisanu said. Cambodian leaders had discounted Kasit\’s

rhetorical attacks on Hun Sen during a PAD rally last year

and had shown diplomatic acumen in working to further

relationships with Thailand\’s new government.

 

NO QUICK SOLUTIONS

——————

 

6. (C) Pisanu expressed confidence in Kasit\’s ability to

handle the bilateral talks effectively due to his long

 

BANGKOK 00000209 002 OF 002

 

history of working with Cambodian leaders. On the other

hand, Pisanu was tempered in his assessment over prospects

for quick resolution of the contentious issues. Talks could

go on for quite some time, Pisanu predicted; the success of

negotiations would likely depend more on the Thai government

than on Cambodia, because Thai domestic political conflicts

could prove to be an obstacle in resolving the issues.

JOHN

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Written by thaicables

July 19, 2011 at 6:26 am

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