Archive for category cambodian border

Exports to Cambodia to fall 30% this year: Border tensions also deter investors

(Bangkok Post – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) — SIEM REAP, Cambodia — Thailand’s exports to Cambodia are set to slide by 30 percent this year, as the neighbouring state plunges into unprecedented economic and financial hardship.

Thailand’s exports including border trade are forecast to be worth US$14 billion this year, compared with $20 billion in 2008, said Jiranun Wongmongkol, Thailand’s minister counsellor (commercial) in Cambodia.

Leading exports are automobiles, motorcycles, refined oil, construction materials, rubber tyres, food and beverages.

The slump in trade is due to the global downturn, rather than continuing tension over the disputed Preah Vihear temples, she said.

“The drop is not due to the border dispute, but the global financial crisis that has cut consumer demand. The drop is mainly due to lower demand for building materials, consumer products and petroleum,” she said.

Over the first three months of this year, Thai exports to Cambodia sank 28.23 percent to $370.59 million, down from $516.37 million in the same period last year.

Cambodia’s garment exports, which rely mainly on the US market, have been hit especially hard by the slowdown. About 200 clothing factories have shut down and about 50,000 workers have been laid off, said Mrs Jiranun.

Further redundancies are also anticipated as the world and US economies remain in the doldrums.

Cambodia’s tourism has also been damaged by the world recession and by Thailand’s recent airport closures and political riots, which scared away tourists from markets such as the US, Europe and South Korea, who use Thailand as a gateway to Cambodia, said Mrs Jiranun.

The Preah Vihear dispute has also reportedly deterred 60 percent of the 200,000 to 300,000 Thai tourists who visit Cambodia each year.

Cambodia welcomed about 2.2 million foreign visitors in 2008, a figure it aimed to increase to 3.1 million in 2010. But foreign tourists are set to fall by more than half this year, say industry experts.

“Worse still, Cambodia’s economy is now in a very poor condition as it is suffering from deflation and a ‘bubble-burst’ as Thailand experienced during the economic crisis in 1997,” she said.

But Thai products still have potential in Cambodia — particularly food and beverages, which are very popular among its consumers — said Mrs Jiranun.

Chaiyapruk Phumimuang, managing director of Angkor T.K. Travel & Tour Co, which operates food chains and Tara Hotel in Cambodia, said Cambodia offers appealing investment opportunities, particularly in tourism and manufacturing, given its low labour costs.

“Thai investors are still reluctant to invest in Cambodia for fear of national conflict following the temple dispute, leaving investors from other countries such as South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam to rapidly overtake them,” said Mr Chaiyapruk.


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Cambodia demand Bt69 million compensation over border clashes

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation

Cambodia has officially made its demand for more than US$2 million (Bt69 million) compensation from Thailand over damage following the clash between troops of both sides at Preah Vihear temple in April.
Phnom Penh presented its complaint to the Thai Foreign Ministry on Monday, saying the attack with heavy weapons by Thai troops against Cambodian territory near the Hindu temple on April 3 damaged a Cambodian market.

“A total of 246 stands within this market were completely destroyed, causing great hardship and misery to 319 Cambodian families who have lost their entire livelihood,” said a diplomatic note from Phnom Penh to Thailand.

“The material loss incurred on these families amounts to $ 2,150,500,” it said.

Cambodia demanded the Thai government take full responsibility for damage caused by the Thai soldiers and to appropriately compensate for the losses, it noted.

The border skirmish in April at the disputed area near the Preah Vihear temple killed three Thai and two Cambodian soldiers and injured many others. Phnom Penh has not demanded compensation for the loss of its troops.

Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat said Thailand did not need to compensate Cambodia for the damage since the clash took place in Thai territory.

Thai troops fired to defend national sovereignty and maintain order in the area, he said.

The ministry would send a letter to Cambodia to reiterate Thailand’s position and insist the area belongs to Thailand, Tharit said.

The ministry’s legal affairs and treaties experts would consider whether Thailand will send a counter demand for compensation, he said.

The border dispute with Cambodia erupted last year as Thailand opposed Phnom Penh’s proposal to list the Hindu temple as a world heritage site.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 the Preah Vihear belongs to Cambodia, but its surroundings have been claimed by both sides and have not yet been demarcated. The conflict sparked military clashes in October last year and again in April this year.


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Cambodian, Thai border talks end with no agreement

SIEM REAP, Cambodia (AFP) – - Cambodian and Thai defence ministers on Wednesday concluded border talks but said they could not agree to pull back troops from a tense territorial dispute near an ancient temple.

At least seven Thai and Cambodian troops have been killed in recent months in sporadic clashes between the neighbouring countries on disputed land around the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple.

Cambodian defence minister Tea Banh and his Thai counterpart Prawit Wongsuwan began this week’s talks by playing a round of golf in the northwestern tourist hub of Siem Reap on Tuesday.

The pair hailed progress by border negotiators from both countries, but Thailand’s Prawit told reporters after talks finished Wednesday that troops would remain in place until the border was demarcated.

“The issue of troop pullback… from the area near Preah Vihear temple depends on the negotiation related to border demarcation that has not been agreed yet,” Prawit told reporters in a joint press conference.

Tea Banh added that both countries were using all means possible to resolve the border dispute.

Troops from the two countries have been in a border standoff since tensions flared last July, when the cliff-top temple was awarded United Nations World Heritage status.

Ownership of the temple was awarded to Cambodia in 1962 but the two countries are in dispute over five square kilometres (two square miles) of land around it that has yet to be officially demarcated.


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Thai, Cambodian PMs discuss border clashes

Saturday, April 11, 2009

PATTAYA, Thailand — Deadly border clashes between Thailand and Cambodia were caused by a “misunderstanding” and will not harm ties, the Thai premier said Friday after meeting his counterpart.

Abhisit Vejjajiva and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen met on the sidelines of an Asian summit here, their first encounter since three Thai soldiers died in fierce gunbattles near an ancient temple one week ago.

“During our bilateral talks we discussed the latest incident,” Abhisit told a press conference after the meeting.

“It happened because of a misunderstanding. The incident will not affect our relations and we will use channels of communication if anything happens in future.”

Abhisit said he would also visit Cambodia on April 18 to meet King Norodom Sihamoni, Hun Sen and other senior officials.

Tensions flared last July when the cliff-top building was awarded United Nations World Heritage status and four people died in clashes the following October.

Ownership of the temple was awarded to Cambodia in 1962 but the two countries are in dispute over five square kilometres (two square miles) of land around the temple which has yet to be officially demarcated.

Abhisit said that he had also discussed cooperation on their overlapping maritime zones and talked about financial assistance to improve the road in Cambodia that links up their border.


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Cambodia, Thailand say progress made in border talks


PHNOM PENH: Cambodian and Thai negotiators said Tuesday they had made progress in efforts to resolve a border stand-off near an ancient temple which last week flared into deadly gunbattles. phpvf9xjf

Three Thai troops were killed following clashes on Friday between the neighbouring countries over disputed land around the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple, the deadliest fighting for six months in a long-running feud.

Border officials from Thailand and Cambodia on Monday began meetings aimed at resolving their competing territorial claims, part of a process launched after an earlier clash in October killed four soldiers.

“We have made a good success,” Vasin Teeravechyan, chief Thai negotiator, told reporters at the conclusion of the two-day talks.

Negotiators said they would be able to make progress on demarcating the border near the temple when they had finished some technical work.

“We have signed on three documents which are basic documents that allow us to continue working on border demarcation,” said Var Kimhong, the chairman of Cambodia’s border committee.

But the two countries failed to reach agreement on the spelling of the temple in official documents.

The World Court gave ownership of the temple – which Thailand calls Phra Viharn – to Cambodia in 1962, but tensions flared last July when the cliff-top building was awarded United Nations World Heritage status.

The current dispute centres on five square kilometres of land around the temple which has yet to be officially demarcated. The most accessible entrance to the ruins is in Thailand.

The Cambodia-Thailand border has never been fully demarcated, in part because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of civil war in Cambodia.

Cambodian and Thai military officials have also met several times over the past few days to prevent fresh fighting.


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Thailand, Cambodia in talks over border

5th April 2009, 18:35 WST
Cambodian and Thai officials held urgent talks on Sunday to prevent fresh fighting on their border after months of tensions over disputed land near an ancient temple flared up into deadly gunbattles.

A third Thai soldier died in hospital following Friday’s clashes, which plunged relations between the neighbours to a new low just days before a regional summit that was supposed to focus on the global economic slowdown.

Military officials from both sides met over lunch in disputed territory near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple on Sunday, while Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen was set to meet Thai officials later in the capital Phnom Penh.

“We held the meeting in order to make the situation return to normal and to make sure there’s no more gunfire. We have agreed to stay on our sides of the border,” Cambodian Major General Srey Doek said after the lunchtime talks.

Troops could be seen chatting and some even stowed away their weapons but said they remained ready to fight after their clash, the biggest burst of violence over the territory since four people died there in October.

Decades of tensions over ownership of the site started to boil over after Cambodia successfully applied for United Nations world heritage status for the ruins in July.

Major General Kanok Netrak Thavesanak, the Thai officer who attended the talks near Preah Vihear, said officials from his country would meet later with Hun Sen.

Cambodian cabinet spokesman Phay Siphan said the meeting would focus on the recent violence. There was no immediate reaction on the talks from the military or foreign ministry in Bangkok.

“A Thai official is going to meet with the Cambodian prime minister today and they will talk about the clashes that happened two days earlier,” Phay Siphan told AFP.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva meanwhile said the issue would come up when he meets with Hun Sen at a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its regional partners in Thailand next week.

“This will be raised in next week’s meeting to find a solution to the problem,” Abhisit said in his weekly television broadcast.

“It is sad for those who lost their lives. We will speed up the return of the situation to normal and resume the talking process as soon as possible,” Abhisit added.

Pre-arranged talks on the border situation, the latest in a series that have been held over the past six months, are also set to go ahead as planned on Monday and Tuesday in Phnom Penh.

The Thai and Cambodian leaders sought to play down the latest crisis on Saturday, saying that it was the result of a misunderstanding and that the two countries were not at war.

But while tensions had noticeably eased at the border on Sunday, Cambodian troops said they remained alert against alleged Thai incursions.

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Cambodia and Thailand in new armed clashes over temple site

Published Date: 04 April 2009
By Sopheng Cheang in Phnom Penh

THAI and Cambodian soldiers traded machinegun and rocket fire along their disputed border yesterday, leaving up to four dead, as a long-standing feud over an 11th-century temple escalated.
The Cambodian government said four Thai soldiers had been killed and ten captured during the clashes, but Thailand’s foreign ministry insisted only one of its troops had been killed and none taken prisoner.

The fighting is the latest flare-up neaADVERTISEMENTr the cliff-top Preah Vihear temple, which is on the Cambodian side of an ill- defined border that has been a source of conflict for decades. Two clashes last year sparked brief concerns of war.

The two countries have long had competing claims to land surrounding the temple, which the World Court awarded to Cambodia in 1962. Tensions flared last July after Unesco, the UN cultural agency, approved Cambodia’s bid to have the temple named a World Heritage Site. Both sides deployed troops.

In the first round of yesterday’s fighting, Cambodian forces fired on some 60 Thai soldiers who entered Cambodian territory, sparking a battle that lasted about ten minutes, according to Yim Kheang, a Cambodian soldier at the border.

The Thai foreign ministry said the clash started when their soldiers arrived to investigate the site where one of their colleagues had his leg blown off by a land mine on Thursday. As they approached the area, Cambodian soldiers opened fire, he said.

Thai defence minister Prawit Wongsuwan downplayed the clash. “It was an accident, a misunderstanding among officials on the ground, which is common when you are closely positioned,” he told reporters.

In the second clash, Cambodians said Thai soldiers shot rocket-propelled grenades into their territory. Thailand denied the allegation.


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Thai, Cambodian border fighting has stopped: Thai government

Fighting between Thai and Cambodian soldiers in a disputed border region has stopped after an exchange of heavy gunfire, Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat said by telephone. “The army chiefs are now talking,” Tharit said. “We asked for a ceasefire and do not want to use force.”

Cambodian and Thai troops engaged in “large-scale fighting” today, Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan said by phone. Two Thai soldiers were killed and six wounded, he said. Tharit denied the claim and said Thailand had suffered no deaths or injuries.

Two Cambodian soldiers were killed after soldiers fired at each other in at least three locations on the border, Agence France-Presse said, citing government spokesman Khieu Kanharith. Phay Siphan said he couldn¡¦t confirm the Cambodian deaths.

The fighting erupted before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which Thailand and Cambodia are members, will hold a summit from April 10 to 12 in Pattaya south of Bangkok with the leaders of China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen plans to attend.

The disputed area has been the site of numerous incidents since July, when Thailand objected to Cambodia¡¦s efforts to list Preah Vihear temple as a United Nations World Heritage site. The countries agreed in October to avoid clashes in the area after two Cambodian soldiers were killed in a gun battle.

Warning Issued

Hun Sen warned Thailand on March 31 that fighting would break out should troops from its neighbor cross into Cambodian territory.

Thailand plans to write a letter of protest to Cambodia after a five-minute exchange of gunfire between their troops earlier today, Tharit said.

The shooting erupted after Thai troops invited the Cambodians to inspect the site where a soldier from Thailand stepped on a landmine and lost his leg, Tharit said.

The meeting failed to resolve matters and the Cambodians left, then started firing, Tharit said. Thai officers suspect a newly laid landmine caused yesterday¡¦s blast, he said.

In 1962, the International Court of Justice ruled in a 9-3 vote that Cambodia had sovereignty over Preah Vihear. The court didn¡¦t rule on the disputed land near the temple.

Thai and Cambodian officials have scheduled meetings to continue work on demarcating their 803-kilometer (499-mile) border. The two countries have yet to divide 10,422 square miles in the Gulf of Thailand that may contain oil and gas reserves.


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Thai, Cambodian troops clash near temple

04 April 2009, Saturday

Thai and Cambodian soldiers exchanged rocket and rifle fire on a disputed stretch of their border on Friday, killing one Thai in the latest flare-up of an ancient feud over a 900-year-old Hindu temple.

Both sides accused each other of firing first in two separate clashes near the Preah Vihear temple, which is claimed by both Southeast Asian nations and saw an armed standoff last year. One Thai soldier died from a rocket-propelled grenade fired by Cambodian troops when fighting resumed after midday talks between the border commanders failed. Seven Thai soldiers were also wounded in the second battle, Wiboonsak Neepan, commander of Thailand’s Second Army, told Reuters. In Phnom Penh, Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said he had received reports of two Cambodian soldiers killed in the initial fighting this morning, but it was not confirmed. Cambodian officials claimed two Thais died in the morning clash. Thailand said no one was hurt then and it planned to lodge a formal protest with the Cambodian government.


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Hun Sen warns of border fight, criticises Kasit


By: Bangkok Post
Published: 1/04/2009 at 07:13 AM

PHNOM PENH: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has warned Thailand it will face resistance if its troops again cross their disputed border.

Hun Sen made the remarks on Tuesday, a week after Cambodian officials said about 100 Thai troops briefly entered contested territory near the ancient Preah Vihear temple where a deadly gun battle broke out last year.

“I tell you first, if you enter [Cambodian territory] again, we will fight,” Hun Sen said at a ceremony to open a road named after him in the seaside resort of Sihanoukville.

“The troops at the border have already received the order.

“I am the leader of Cambodia who was elected by the will of the people, not by robbing power,” he said, in an apparent reference to Thailand’s current political instability.

Hun Sen also told his audience that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva will visit Cambodia on April 18, but blasted Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya for allegedly insulting him.

“He insults me – he has called me a gangster,” he said of the foreign minister.

“What would you say if I insulted your prime minister and your ancestors? I’m not angry with you, but please use dignified words.”

Tensions over the long-disputed territory flared in July last year after the 11th century temple was granted United Nations world heritage status. Soldiers clashed in the area in October, leaving four troops dead.

Subsequent talks between Cambodia and Thailand have not resolved the border dispute.

Thai officials deny that any of their troops crossed the border last week.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat said the ministry had not received an official report on Hun Sen’s speech, but said there had been a “misinterpretation” of earlier comments made by Mr Kasit regarding Hun Sen.

“Thailand wants to avoid using force and supports using border mechanisms to solve problems,” Mr Tharit said.

“The border mechanism is working well.”


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