Wednesday, 9 February 2011

ASEAN chair: Thai-Cambodian border dispute be solved bilaterally


( Updated February 09, 2011

BANGKOK (Xinhua) - The Thai-Cambodian border dispute should be resolved bilaterally, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said on Tuesday after his meeting with Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya.

Natalegawa, who is the current chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said ASEAN or members of the regional grouping will be willing to support any bilateral efforts by Thailand and Cambodia to resolve their border conflict.

"Any engagement by ASEAN and by any individual country is not to replace the bilateral approach, but contrarily to support the bilateral approach," the Indonesian foreign minister was quoted as saying by the English-language Bangkok Post online.

Natalegawa, who met Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong before arriving in Bangkok, said he got a clear message from Phnom Penh and Bangkok that both countries were committed to address their border conflict through peaceful means and dialogue.

"We are the family of ASEAN nations and there are ways and means for us to resolve whatever problems we have through negotiation and dialogue," Natalegawa was quoted as saying.

He continued: "Indonesia will be very happy if we are included in any conversation or any communication that the two governments may have on ways and means to ensure the continuity of ceasefire."

Crossfire between Thai and Cambodian soldiers broke out at a border point in Thailand's northeastern Si Sa Ket province last Friday, with the latest round of fire exchange reported on Monday' s morning.

No further violence was reported as of Tuesday's afternoon.

Earlier, Chavanond Intarakomalyasut, secretary to the Thai foreign minister, said the Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC), led by senior government officials of both countries, is scheduled to meet in the last week of February. No specific date has been set yet.

The JBC together with the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by Thailand and Cambodia in 2000 is the key framework for settling the two countries' disputed border areas.

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