Saturday, 18 October 2008

Surin Hopes Malaysia Will Help Resolve Thailand-Cambodia Border Dispute

SERDANG, Oct 17 (Bernama) -- Asean Secretary-General Dr Surin Pitsuwan hopes Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim and his counterparts from Indonesia and Singapore will help to resolve the border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia which erupted in deadly clashes this week.

"It is up to him at his level. I'm only the secretary-general. He (Rais) volunteered to do his best and would consult his colleagues.

"I appreciate this very much," he told reporters before delivering a public lecture on 'Asean Integration' at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) in conjunction with its 32nd convocation ceremony, here Friday.

Surin will be awarded an honorary doctorate in economics by UPM during the first session of the convocation tomorrow morning.

The award is for his contributions as an eminent statesman in the Asean region fighting for democratic rights, sustainable development and human safety.

On Wednesday, a gun-and-rocket battle near the 11th-century Preah Vihear border temple killed two Cambodian soldiers and wounded three others. Seven Thai soldiers were also injured.

Surin said Indonesian Foreign Minister Dr Hassan Wirajuda would be doing the same and he had also tried to reach Singapore Foreign Minister George Yong-Boon Yeo regarding the issue.

When asked whether Asean would send a peacemaker, Surin said both sides still wanted to use the bilateral mechanism and Asean should respect that.

"All we can do now is to encourage them to resolve the dispute peacefully through their own bilateral mechanism that had been established a long time ago."

And from what I know, both sides have pledged at the highest level to find a peaceful solution," he said.

He revealed that he also tried to seek help from the other Asean member countries but could not be reached.

"They are further away from the region and may feel no attachment to the issue," he said.

On the global economic crisis, Surin said there should be no panic reaction but precautionary steps must be taken.


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