Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Army rules out rushed talks with Cambodia

via CAAI

Hun Sen's son blamed for resumed hostilities

Published: 8/02/2011 

Thai army officers have no plans to rush into talks with Cambodia to end the border conflict as they say the Cambodians are lacking in unity and are not keeping to their word.

"Despite [previous] talks [among commanders] and truce agreement, Cambodian field units started firing again," 2nd Army commander Thawatchai Samutsakhon said yesterday.

"It's them who start the fight every time and then [they] come up with this and that excuse. I won't negotiate [with them] yet," Lt Gen Thawatchai said.

"As for now, we are fully prepared to curb whatever is to come."

He said the ceasefire deal might not have been conveyed properly to field units, and this was why firing went on.

Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has ordered the 2nd Army to try to hold further talks with Cambodia and to find a way to effectively end the fighting, Defence Ministry spokesman Thanathip Sawangsaeng said.

Col Thanathip said Gen Prawit was very worried about the situation.

"In past negotiations between military commanders from the two sides, Cambodia has agreed to stop firing and the commanders seemed to understand," the spokesman said.

"But the agreed messages might have not reached all operation units yet, so there were still clashes."

An army source said Gen Prawit spoke with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Defence Minister Tea Banh by telephone on Saturday and they agreed to a ceasefire and to stop reinforcing their troops.

"But Cambodia has not kept its word and has started a new attack on Thailand, which has infuriated the [Thai] defence minister," the source said.

Thai field commanders believe the Cambodian operation after the ceasefire on Sunday was the work of Hun Sen's son, Hun Manet, who was promoted to a two-star general in a ceremony earlier this month.

He is commanding the Cambodian troops based near the Preah Vihear temple himself.

"Hun Sen wants the Cambodian people to be satisfied with his son and he wants to show them his [impressive] roles before he is to be promoted to the army chief's post," a source said.

Brig Gen Hun Manet, 33, who graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point, wanted to retaliate against Thai troops after Cambodian troops suffered severe damage in Friday's clashes, the source said.

"I know that the Cambodian side faced heavy losses," Lt Gen Thawatchai said.

"We also have some losses, so we should not fight. But when Cambodian troops do not have unity, it's useless to talk with them now."

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said yesterday he hoped dialogue between the two sides was still possible as a key mechanism to end the border row.

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