>Thaksin ‘wants to open Koh Kong casino’

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Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama cuts a large ribbon to mark the opening of Road 48 in Koh Kong while Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, left, and Deputy Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, right, look on. The road project was financed by the Thai government. — JAKKRIT WAEWKRAIHONG

Cambodia confident of end to Preah Vihear row
JAKKRIT WAEWKRAIHONG & THANIDA TANSUBHAPOL
Thaksin Shinawatra is interested in developing another casino and entertainment complex in the Cambodian province of Koh Kong, Cambodian Defence Minister Teah Banh said yesterday.
Gen Teah Banh, who also is a deputy prime minister with close links to Thai generals, also expressed confidence about a peaceful solution to the dispute over the push by Phnom Penh to register Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site.
The Cambodian minister said in Koh Kong, opposite Trat, that talks about Mr Thaksin’s plan were still unofficial. ”Prime Minister Hun Sen trusted and wanted Mr Thaksin to advise on developing Koh Kong as a special economic zone,” the general said.
Koh Kong now has a casino complex operated by Koh Kong International, a firm owned by Pat Supapa, a senator representing the province and former governor.
The general maintained that the deadlock with Thailand over the Preah Vihear issue could be resolved and would not explode and compromise bilateral ties.
Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama cuts a large ribbon to mark the opening of Road 48 in Koh Kong while Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, left, and Deputy Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, right, look on. The road project was financed by the Thai government. — JAKKRIT WAEWKRAIHONG
Gen Teah Banh was speaking as he joined Hun Sen and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An in opening Road 48 and four new bridges. The road was built with one billion baht in financial assistance from Thailand. The Thai side was led by Deputy Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat and Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama.
The road facilitates the transport of goods from Cambodia to Laem Chabang port in Chon Buri through Trat.
Mr Noppadon held talks with Mr Sok An at the temple ruins on the border of Si Sa Ket and Preah Vihear province.
Mr Noppadon hoped that the Cambodian government would agree to develop a joint management plan with Thailand on Preah Vihear with a solution reached within two weeks.
The obstacle to Cambodia’s attempt to register Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site is the overlapping area around the temple, which has not been demarcated.
Mr Noppadon said that the talks on Preah Vihear are separate from negotiations to resolve the overlapping maritime boundary covering 26,000 sq km in the Gulf of Thailand, and there would be no trade-off.
The two countries have submitted different proposals on how to share the benefits from the overlapping maritime area believed to be rich in oil and natural gas.
Thailand and Cambodia signed a memorandum of understanding in 2001 to start negotiations over the overlapping area. But talks were stalled after the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh was burned down by rioters in 2003.
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