Thailand and Burma Restart Border Demarcation Talks

By Saw Yan Naing 29 June 2016

RANGOON — Thailand and Burma have agreed to renew negotiations over disputed border demarcations, which had stalled under Burma’s previous government.

The agreement was reached during State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi’s recent visit to Thailand, according to Burma’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday stated that Burma would host a joint boundary committee to negotiate the renewal of the demarcation process.

Burma shares its eastern and southeastern borders with Thailand, some of which territory is under the control of Burma’s ethnic armed organizations. Ethnic Wa, Shan, Karen, Karenni and Mon each control land to which the Thai government has also staked its claims.

Observers say that Thailand wants to solve the border disputes for business interests and security concerns.

In early June, Thai authorities had proposed building a trading post and upgrading the border gate at Three Pagodas Pass in Thailand’s Sangkhlaburi Province to stimulate trade and development. However, the Burmese government rejected the proposal, according to the state-owned Global New Light of Myanmar.

Non-state armed organizations—the Karen National Union (KNU) and the New Mon State Party (NMSP)—previously controlled areas around Three Pagodas Pass, but it is now partially controlled by the Burma Army. However, Thailand had already constructed buildings and a highway in what the Burmese government firmly considers its own territory.

In late May, during a bilateral meeting on border security, Thai military officials asked their Burma Army counterparts to help convince the powerful ethnic Wa armed group, the United Wa State Army (UWSA), to withdraw its military bases on the Thai-Burma border in Thailand’s northern provinces of Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Song, according to Thai military officials. More than a dozen UWSA bases are in southern Shan State, on or over the Thai border.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, Burma currently has 16 border trading posts, four of which border Thailand.