Sutin denies rumours about maritime talks

Sutin denies rumours about maritime talks

Thaksin, Hun Sen 'didn't discuss topic'

Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang insisted there was nothing behind ongoing negotiations between Thailand and Cambodia regarding overlapping border areas in the Gulf of Thailand.

Mr Sutin was responding to public suspicions and media questions over whether the Feb 21 meeting in Bangkok between Cambodia's former prime minister, Hun Sen, and former Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, had anything to do with the negotiations.

Sutin: No conflict of interest

"There is no conflict of interest, and I believe they did not discuss this issue," Mr Sutin said on Tuesday.

Prior to Hun Sen's visit, his son and current Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet made an official visit to Thailand soon after becoming his country's leader last year.

Thailand and Cambodia have agreed to hold further discussions on the joint exploitation of hydrocarbon resources in the Overlapping Claims Area (OCA) in the Gulf of Thailand.

Strengthening cooperation to ensure energy security for both nations was among the topics brought up during the meeting between current Thai PM Srettha Thavisin and Hun Manet.

According to Mr Sutin, the Foreign Affairs Ministry is now conducting negotiations on the ownership of the 26,000-square-kilometre energy-rich areas near Koh Kood in Trat with the Cambodian government.

He added that the ministry had to offer a comment on border security as it was a member of the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission (JBC).

The negotiation might have had a rough start, as it has been on hold since the 2006 military coup, said Mr Sutin. He added that regardless of the results, his ministry has promised to work on border protection.

Meanwhile, Rosana Tositrakul, a former Bangkok senator, took to Facebook on Tuesday to comment on the risks involved if these areas are handed to Cambodia, saying they could be similar to what happened with the Preah Vihear (Phra Viharn) Temple.

Rosana: Warned of risks

According to Ms Rosana, Cambodia included areas as part of its territory without any maritime laws supporting its claim.

Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn's government split the area between Koh Kood and Cambodia's Koh Kong down the middle via legislation in 1973, which led to the ownership problem regarding this area.

In 2001, Thaksin's government incorporated the Petroleum Authority of Thailand into PTT Co Ltd soon after winning the general election. It also signed a 2001 memorandum of understanding (MoU), focusing on negotiations on the ownership of the area under the 11-degree latitude line with Cambodia, said Ms Rosana.

She suspected that the meeting between Thaksin and Hun Sen on Feb 21 was aimed at continuing the negotiations.

She also said that negotiations might result in a few benefits for the public, but international petroleum companies will be the ones who will benefit most from the 20 trillion baht in income from this area.

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