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09BANGKOK324 THAI-CAMBODIAN BORDER DISPUTE: JOINT BORDER COMMISSION TALKS FRIENDLY BUT INCONCLUSIVE

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“190762”,”2/6/2009 10:11″,”09BANGKOK324″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

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RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE”,

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

BANGKOK 000324

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR EAP/MLS

NSC FOR PHU

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/06/2019

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PBTS, TH, CB

SUBJECT: THAI-CAMBODIAN BORDER DISPUTE: JOINT BORDER

COMMISSION TALKS FRIENDLY BUT INCONCLUSIVE

 

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission James F. Entwistle,

reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

 

1. (C) Summary. The Thai and Cambodian Joint Border

Commission met February 3-4 in Bangkok for friendly talks but

was unable to make substantive progress in resolving their

border dispute. The two sides could not agree on the

official name for the temple at the heart of the border

dispute and for a bilateral monitoring group proposed for the

area around the ancient temple. The name of the bilateral

monitoring mechanism looks to be a significant issue, since

the Thai government appears to want to maintain as much

control as possible of any international coordinating

committee for preservation of the temple. Minor agreements

were struck in scheduling the next round of talks and in

regard to technical details for demarcating the border. Thai

and Cambodian defense ministers met February 6 in Phnom Penh;

Thai contacts suggested before the meeting that the issue of

troop reductions at the temple would be on the agenda.

 

2. (C) Comment. Despite a lack of substantive progress in

the talks, we are reassured that Thailand and Cambodia

continue to meet to talk about the border dispute, seemingly

in a friendly atmosphere. Moreover, the two sides appear

committed to resolving the border dispute through diplomatic,

peaceful means and seem to recognize that further clashes

would do both sides no good. In the negotiations, the Thai

government appears to be trying to win concessions on

peripheral issues such as those concerning the international

coordinating committee, the composition of officials in the

area of the temple, or references to the temple itself in

multiple languages. End Summary and comment.

 

THAI-CAMBODIAN TALKS MAKE PROGRESS

———————————-

 

3. (SBU) Thai and Cambodian negotiators made little progress

in resolving the two nations\’ border dispute centered on

areas the Preah Vihear temple during February 3-4 Joint

Border Commission (JBC) meetings in Bangkok, according to

Thai officials and media reports. For example, the two sides

could not agree on what name to use for the temple in

official documents. Limited by Thai parliamentary approval

of negotiating guidelines, Thai officials proposed using both

the Thai (Phra Viharn) and Khmer name (Preah Vihear) in

references to the temple, while Cambodia insisted on using

Preah Vihear alone. The two sides were similarly unable to

agree on a name for a surveillance group that would be

stationed in the area around the ancient temple. Thailand

reportedly proposed calling the mechanism \”The Military

Monitoring Group\” while Cambodia proposed \”The Temporary

Coordinating Team.\”

 

4. (U) Despite the lack of agreement on names, the atmosphere

of the talks appeared friendly, and media reports indicated

that the next JBC talks have been scheduled for the second

week of April in Cambodia. In addition, the negotiators

agreed in principle to initiate a joint survey to demarcate a

border area along Thailand\’s Si Sa Ket province and to allow

a joint working group to begin studying the legal

technicalities of demarcating the greater Thai-Cambodian

border.

 

COORDINATING COMMITTEE A STICKING POINT

—————————————

 

5. (U) The listing of the Preah Vihear as a World Heritage

site in July 2008 prompted UNESCO to call for Cambodia to

convene an international coordinating committee (ICC) to

safeguard the temple. UNESCO recommended that Cambodia

invite Thailand and not more than seven other \”appropriate\”

partners as members of the committee. The recommendation to

convene an ICC has prompted expressions of alarm by some Thai

commentators. Shortly after the inscription decision, former

Thai Finance Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula claimed in the

Bangkok Post that establishing an ICC could affect areas

 

BANGKOK 00000324 002 OF 002

 

surrounding the temple in which Thailand and Cambodia have

made overlapping claims. Furthermore, the composition of the

ICC is sensitive issue for the Thai. In the same article,

Pridiyathorn cautioned that Cambodia could select committee

members that would be opposed to Thai interests. Cambodia

has not yet established the committee, and UNESCO late last

year extended the deadline from February 1 to May 1, 2009.

 

6. (C) MFA Director of EAP Division II Kallayana

Vipattipumiprates attended the JBC talks and told us February

6 that the dispute over the name of the monitoring group of

the area around the temple centered on an attempt by Cambodia

to push for the withdrawal of all Thai troops from the

disputed areas around the temple. Cambodia proposed

replacing troops with civil servants or other civilian

officials, but the RTG had insisted on keeping the troops to

supervise and monitor the area around the temple and to

facilitate the work of the ICC, Kallayana said.

 

MILITARY LEADERS MEET IN CAMBODIA

———————————

 

7. (U) Thai Minister of Defense GEN (ret.) Prawit Wongsuwan

February 6 visited Phnom Penh along with the Thai Permanent

Secretary for Defense, the Royal Thai Armed Forces Chief of

Defense Forces, and the Commanders of the Thai Army, Navy ,

and Air Force. The Thai military delegation, unusually

inclusive of all top Thai military leaders traveling abroad

together, was scheduled to meet with Cambodian Minister of

Defense Tea Banh, among others. According to media reports,

the two sides planned to discuss troop reductions along the

border. Prawit, in remarks prior to departure, downplayed

the visit and said the focus was for the two sides to get

better acquainted.

JOHN

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Written by thaicables

July 21, 2011 at 5:17 am

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