BANGKOK, Feb 5 -- Thailand and Cambodia should allow fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to help settle their ongoing fierce fighting at the disputed border which entered a second day Saturday, said ASEAN secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan.
According to Mr Surin, a former Thailand foreign minister, the situation has escalated into open conflict, and that it would definitely affect ASEAN economic development, confidence in the region, tourism, and prospects for foreign investment, which have just begun picking up in light of the world economic recovery.
He said he had sent letters to Thai Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong to quickly find ways to end the conflict and exercise the utmost restraint so that both parties could return to the negotiating table.
Surin said he had been in touch with both sides, who he understood each welcomed ASEAN mediation.
As current chairholder of ASEAN, Indonesia is preparing to issue a statement expressing concerns over the tense situation along the Thai-Cambodian border, Mr Surin said.
He said both Thai and Cambodian foreign ministers have agreed to allow ASEAN to play a larger mediation role aimed at ending the fighting as short term measures but the format of ASEAN's role was not clearly specify.
Both countries, along with Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam, are member states of ASEAN. (MCOT online news)