Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Cambodia conflict should end, Army chief says

via CAAI

Published on February 15, 2011

Thai Army chief Prayuth Chan-o-cha said yesterday he believed armed conflict with neighbouring Cambodia would cease following the United Nations Security Council meeting.

The situation along the border area adjacent to the Hindu temple at Preah Vihear was calm. Villagers had already returned home, he said, and the Army had deployed troops in many locations to prevent more clashes.

"The number of troops stationed at border areas is enough to protect the country," he said.

Thailand and Cambodia are at loggerheads over the boundary issue and skirmishes on February 4-7 in the Preah Vihear vicinity killed at least 10 people, including Thai and Cambodian civilians.

Thai and Cambodian foreign ministers have gone to New York to discuss the conflict at the UN Security Council, which wants to end the fighting. Both sides have blamed each other for starting the border flare-up.

Phnom Penh has asked the UN to ensure a 'permanent cease-fire' at Preah Vihear, which was listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008.

Thailand has insisted on bilateral talks to end the conflict, and doubts whether the UN will agree with Phnom Penh's proposal.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) also wants a role in mediating the conflict between two of its members.

Indonesia, the current chair of the regional group, will convene a meeting in Jakarta on Feb 22 to explore ways to settle the dispute.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa was also at the UNSC meeting in New York with his Thai and Cambodian counterparts. He expected the UNSC to throw the issue back to the regional forum, Asean.

However observers say Asean is unlikely to have any concrete ideas on settling the conflict and bringing permanent peace between the two countries.

Diplomatic sources said Asean would hold an informal meeting late this month, avoiding formality or direct mediation. Bangkok would feel uncomfortable with any mediation of the conflict, the diplomats said.

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