Thai PM in first Cambodia visit to mend ties

New Thai premier Yingluck Shinawatra held her first official talks with her Cambodian counterpart on Thursday.

Bangkok: New Thai premier Yingluck Shinawatra held her first official talks with her Cambodian counterpart on Thursday as the neighbours seek to patch up relations after deadly border clashes.

The Thai Prime Minister, who took power last month, and Cambodian leader Hun Sen agreed to "redeploy troops" away from a disputed area near an ancient temple on their shared border, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said.

The countries have engaged in occasionally bloody clashes at their frontier, but tensions have eased since Yingluck`s July election win, backed by her brother, ousted ex-leader Thaksin Shinawatra.

Yingluck’s one-day trip to Phnom Penh precedes a visit on Friday by Thaksin, who remains a controversial but highly influential figure in Thailand. The siblings are not expected to meet.

"The visit will restore ties and cooperation in all fields between the two countries," Cambodia`s foreign ministry spokesman Koy Kuong told a news agency before the meeting, adding that relations were "normalising".

The Hague-based International Court of Justice in July asked both nations to withdraw military personnel from around the Preah Vihear temple complex, but neither side has pulled out yet, though the border has been calm.

Hor Namhong said the redeployment of troops would need observers from Indonesia, the current chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc.

Hun Sen, who has called Thaksin an "eternal friend", said last month that the "nightmare" of strained ties with Thailand was over and vowed to work with Bangkok to resolve the border row, which centres around the 900-year-old temple.

Under previous Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva the spat twice escalated into heavy arms clashes this year, prompting Phnom Penh to take the dispute to the United Nation`s highest court.

Thailand does not dispute Cambodia`s ownership of Preah Vihear, but both sides claim a 4.6-square-kilometre (1.8-square-mile) area of adjacent land.

In February, 10 people were killed in fighting at the temple site and fresh clashes broke out further west in April, leaving 18 dead.

Bureau Report

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