Cambodia, Thailand Elevate Ties to Strategic Partnership

Prime Minister Hun Manet talks with his Thai counterpart Srettha Thavisin on Feb. 7. Photo: STPM/Telegram

PHNOM PENH – Cambodia and Thailand agreed to elevate relations to strategic partnership during Prime Minister Hun Manet’s official visit to Bangkok on Feb. 7 as the countries look to strengthening cooperations in areas including energy security, tourism and trade. 

Hun Manet is in Thailand for a one-day visit. He was welcomed by his Thai counterpart Srettha Thavisin before holding talks. 

“We have agreed to raise status of our relation to strategic partnership that will signify growing strength and opportunities to strengthen between countries and people,” he said in a joint press conference with Srettha. 

Srettha said Thailand will open a consulate-general in Siem Reap while Cambodia will open a consulate-general in the southern Songkla province this year. 

Hun Manet said he and Srettha discussed trade and investment, tourism, connectivity, defense, security, labor and energy security. 

On the issue of the overlapping claim area (OCA) in the Gulf of Thailand, they agreed to continue talks on joint exploration. Hun Manet said the joint technical team will discuss the matter further.

“We hoped that will yield the result very soon in the near future so that our both countries can get mutual benefits,” he said. 

While eyeing cooperation on energy security as the two countries import huge amounts of fuel and the joint exploration in OCA, Srettha said, “We attach importance to maritime delimitation and agree to discuss the issue simultaneously with our exploration of hydrocarbon resources.”

On security, Srettha said it is the current government’s policy not to allow anyone to use Thailand as a platform to interfere in the internal affairs of Cambodia or conduct harmful activities against the neighboring country and Thailand will strictly enforce the law and policy in this aspect.

Hun Manet thanked his Thai counterpart for reaffirming that not allowing Thai territory to be used for any activities for interference in Cambodian internal politics. He also reassured Srettha of Cambodian commitment of not allowing its land as a source to interfere in Thailand’s affairs.

“This is for mutual respect, mutual benefit of our countries to promote stability and trust and confidence and also for the strengthening of our future relationship,” Hun Manet said.

Srettha said the countries will accelerate economic cooperation as two-way trade hasn’t reached the target. Trade between the two countries was at $8 billion, short of the target of $15 billion by 2025.

The Thai PM said that Thailand will host a joint trade committee in May to discuss plans to boost trade. 

On tourism, Srettha said Thailand and Cambodia will look into ways to make it easier for tourists to travel across the border and visit places in both countries as well as in neighboring countries in one trip. 

“We will join hands in the Six Countries One Destination campaign to promote regional tourism,” he said. 

He said the two countries will discuss updating an agreement on border crossing which allows the use of temporary border passes, longer stays, and access to non-border provinces like Siem Reap. 

Cambodia and Thailand will also resume negotiations on the agreement on cross-border transportation to enable border crossings by private cars. 

On transboundary haze, both countries will increase cooperation to tackle the issue with the goal of bringing clean air to the people. Srettha said a joint working group will be set up to map out cooperations including establishing a hotline for sharing information and alerts on burning locations, emergency response and capacity-building and sharing of best practice in areas such as agriculture burning management.  

Srettha said he also invited Cambodia to join the clear sky strategy with Thailand, Lao and Myanmar on this issue. 

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