Thailand and Cambodia in talks over disputed Gulf area

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

Negotiations are underway between Thailand and Cambodia concerning overlapping border regions in the Gulf of Thailand, according to Sutin Klungsang, Thailand’s Defence Minister. He addressed public concerns and queries from the press about the possible implications of a meeting held in Bangkok on February 21 between Hun Sen, former Prime Minister of Cambodia, and Thaksin Shinawatra, ex-Thai Prime Minister.

Sutin stated yesterday, February 27, that there is no conflict of interest.

“I believe they did not discuss this issue,”

Before the meeting, Hun Manet, the current Cambodian Prime Minister and Sen’s son had officially visited Thailand shortly after assuming his leadership role. The two nations have decided to undertake further discussions regarding the shared exploitation of hydrocarbon resources in the Overlapping Claims Area (OCA) in the Gulf of Thailand, reported Bangkok Post.

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Sutin revealed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is presently negotiating the ownership of the 26,000 square kilometres of resource-rich areas near Koh Kood in Trat with the Cambodian government. Topics around bolstering cooperation to ensure energy security for both countries were discussed during the meeting between Thai PM Srettha Thavisin and Hun Manet.

Sutin stated that these negotiations could have had a challenging beginning, considering they had been put on hold since the military coup of 2006. Regardless of the outcome, the Defence Minister pledged that his ministry would focus on border protection.

Simultaneously, ex-Bangkok Senator, Rosana Tositrakul, voiced her concerns over the potential risks of handing these regions over to Cambodia. She drew parallels to the situation with the Preah Vihear (Phra Viharn) Temple.

In 1973, the government of Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn divided the land between Koh Kood and Cambodia’s Koh Kong through legislation, leading to current ownership disputes, she explained.

Rosana expressed her suspicion that the February 21 meeting between Thaksin and Hun Sen was strategically convened to continue these negotiations. She also pointed to the potential for a few public benefits but emphasised that international petroleum companies stand to gain significantly, with potential earnings from this area estimated to be around 20 trillion baht.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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