Thailand on Saturday returned 16 ancient artefacts recovered from smugglers to Cambodia.
The handover ceremony was held at the Foreign Ministry during a two-day visit to Thailand by Cambodian Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong.
“It is my great pleasure to hand over these 16 antiquities through you to the people of Cambodia,” Foreign Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn told his Cambodian counterpart. “This handover is a unique gesture demonstrating the long-standing and friendly relations that exist between our two countries and peoples.”
Gen Tanasak did not elaborate on details of the Khmer artefacts and did not confirm when the items will reach Phnom Penh.
He said the handover was made after Thailand and Cambodia signed an agreement to combat illicit trafficking and cross border smuggling of cultural property and return recovered items to the country of origin. He said the Thai government is committed to arresting and prosecuting smugglers of these valuable antiquities under the agreement.
Coinciding with the handover ceremony, Gen Tanasak and Hor Namhong signed a new Agreement of Border Crossing between Thailand and Cambodia, replacing the previous one which allows Thai citizens living along border areas to work on a daily and seasonal basis in the border areas of Cambodia and vice versa.
He said the agreement will help address the issue of illegal migrant workers and support the development of Special Economic Zones of both countries.
Both sides also announced the opening of a new checkpoint at the An Mah area in Ubon Ratchathani province opposite the An Ses area in Cambodia’s Preah Vihear province.
Gen Tanasak said the checkpoint will strengthen relations and trade between the two countries. There are plans to upgrade these checkpoints as trade grows in the area with the AEC looming, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.