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Bangkok Post (11/5/99)

<center><bold>New effort to settle river rows

</bold></center>Achara Ashayagachat

Thailand and Burma have agreed to set up a technical committee to look
into construction projects in and along the Moei and Salween rivers, in
an attempt to resolve border disputes.

A separate joint panel will also be set up to settle the dispute over
three small islands in the Andaman Sea.

The fourth Joint Boundary Committee which met in Rangoon last week made
some headway on boundary disputes along the two rivers as both sides
agreed to set up a permanent committee to deal with any construction
along the rivers which divide the two countries, the Foreign Ministry

Thailand has lodged two protests over Burma's construction of embankments
encroaching on the Moei river which separates Myawaddy in Burma and Mae
Sot district, Tak.

Burma, on the other hand, has complained about the building of Thai shops
on the silted soil of the Moei.

"Having constructions along Moei or Salween river would be against the
international practice and fuel misunderstanding and conflict with each
other. The new joint technical committee will consider future buildings
and will handle the already-built cases," officials said.

The two sides also discussed the disputed islands of Koh Kham, Koh Khi
Nok, and Koh Larm-the first formal discussion since the time of King Rama

"We had never formally discussed this matter after Burma claimed the
three islands were in their waters as a result of an 1868 Anglo-Siamese

This time, the officials said, the talks were candid and the two sides
agreed that a sub-committee comprising marine and legal experts from both
countries would begin discussions on resolving demarcation and
sovereignty over these areas.

The three islands are located 45 nautical miles from Pak Chan river off
Ranong province.

The overlapping claims have resulted in a series of clashes between
fishing boats, and between Thai and Burmese naval vessels since the end
of last year. The incidents resulted in the deaths of two Thai naval
officers and three Burmese fishermen and sparked a flurry of accusations
from both sides.

The Joint Boundary Committee co-chaired by the deputy foreign ministers
of both countries, also emphasised the need to preserve and replace
damaged border markings along the demarcated Mae Sai and Ruak river in
Chiang Rai.

However, the two sides did not discuss the draft memorandum of
understanding which is a legal framework for surveying and demarcating
the Burmese-Thai border, nor terms of reference detailing zoning.

"Burma has not considered the draft we proposed more than six months ago,
but instead has placed a new proposal which we will now be studying," one
Thai official said.