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Cambodia, Thailand shall boost trade as border tension eases: Hun Sen

(Xinhua)

08:38, April 10, 2012

PHNOM PENH, April 9 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia and Thailand need to boost bilateral trade ties as the border conflict has eased, said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday.

"Now, the border situation has been much improving, no more military tension," he said during the inauguration of the national road No. 68 in Siem Reap Province.

The prime minister said that as the border dispute was over, it was the time the two nations began to think about ways to promote the bilateral trade.

He recalled that on the sidelines of the 20th ASEAN Summit here last week, he had discussed with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra about border trade promotion between the two countries, and Yingluck agreed with him that bilateral trade must be increased and she also advised the Thai commerce Minister to discuss with Cambodian counterpart on this issue.

"The exchange of goods with each other is more advantageous than the exchange of bullets," said Hun Sen, recalling the last year's gunfire exchange between the two countries' troops in February and April that claimed lives of troops and civilians on both sides.

He said Cambodia wants to build a border of peace, friendship, cooperation and development with Thailand as it has done with Vietnam and Laos.

Fierce border conflicts between Cambodia and Thailand broke out just a week after the UNESCO approved Cambodia's bid to have the Preah Vihear Temple named a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008.

The International Court of Justice awarded the cliff-top situated Preah Vihear Temple to Cambodia on June 15, 1962, but Thailand claims the ownership of 4.6 square kilometers of scrub next to the temple.

On April 28, 2011, Cambodia submitted a request to the ICJ for interpretation of its judgment in 1962 on the ancient temple. It was accompanied by an urgent request for provisional measures in which Cambodia demands Thailand immediately and unconditionally to withdraw troops from the area surrounding the ruins.

During the interval of waiting for the verdict interpretation, the ICJ ordered Cambodia and Thailand on July 18, 2011 to immediately withdraw their military personnel from the 17km Provisional Demilitarized Zone (PDZ) on the disputed border near the temple and allow ASEAN observers to access to the PDZ to monitor ceasefire.

So far, neither Cambodia nor Thailand has withdrawn its troops from the area.

"We let the ICJ proceed its judgment in the case of the disputed area, and the two governments have to find ways to boost bilateral trade," said Hun Sen.

The bilateral trade between Cambodia and Thailand last year was 3.08 billion U.S. dollars, up 21 percent from a year earlier, according to the statistics provided by Thai embassy in Phnom Penh.

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