CHIANGRAI TIMES – Thailand and Cambodia have reaffirmed their strong and close ties and agreed to speed up talks on plans for joint development including overlapping maritime claims in the Gulf of Thailand for their mutual benefit.
Thai Foreign minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul and Energy minister Pichai Naripthaphan told reporters after paying a courtesy call on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen for 45 minutes on Thursday that the atmosphere was very good and the talks friendly.
Surapong was in Phnom Penh on his introductory visit as foreign minister.
He told reporters that Hun Sen stressed the good relations between the two countries, particularly the special personal friendship with former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
Hun Sen expressed his desire to end the border conflict between Thailand and Cambodia and resume talks on the joint development area (JDA) in the maritime overlapping claims area (OCA) of approximately 26,000 square kilometres, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas.
Joint development of the areas could benefit the two nations, particularly in regard to petroleum exploitation.
However, Surapong said, there was no mention of the two Thai activists, Veera Somkwamkid, a leader of the People’s Network against Corruption and a highprofile activist in the Thai Patriots Network, and his secretary Ratree Pipattanapaiboon, who are serving sentences in Cambodia for espionage charges.
Pichai said that Cambodia wanted to see more bilateral cooperation in economics, trade and tourism.
Cambodia also wanted to cooperate with Thailand on the Stung Num power plant and a coal power plant at Koh Kong, he said.
Pichai added that the pending talks on the overlapping claims areas have taken long time with 11 Thai governments, starting with the Chatichai Choonhavan government. He said the talks have made “certain progress” and that Hun Sen wanted the negotiations to end.
Surapong said that since the new government took office in Thailand, relations between Thailand and Cambodia have gradually improved.
A Local news agency on Thursday quoted Hun Sen as saying that the bilateral relations between Cambodia and Thailand have “turned good” since the Pheu Thai Party led by Yingluck Shinawatra won the general election in July this year.
He added that it was the opening of the new chapter of Cambodian and Thai relations and cooperation.