Sunday, 20 February 2011

Indonesia Reiterates Need For Peaceful Resolution Of Thai-Cambodia Row

via CAAI

TOKYO, Feb 19 (Bernama) -- Visiting Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said Friday that Cambodia and Thailand must jointly reiterate their commitment not to use force amid ongoing border skirmishes, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported.

At a news conference at the Japan National Press Club, Natalegawa said Thailand and Cambodia must "reinforce or reiterate the commitments that the two sides have repeatedly made that they will not wish to resort to the use of force in solving the problem between them."

"Given the nature of the two countries today, I feel that this commitment must be made together, rather than simply made separately," he said.

The remarks came ahead of a meeting in Jakarta next Tuesday that will bring together the foreign ministers of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to discuss the dispute between the two countries. Indonesia currently holds the rotating chair of Asean.

The latest round of a territorial dispute from Feb 4 between Cambodia and Thailand over 4.6 square kilometers of land around the Preah Vihear temple on the border has led to at least 10 deaths, dozens injured and over 25,000 displaced persons.

Natalegawa visited Phnom Penh and Bangkok earlier this month in a bid to mediate in the conflict. The UN Security Council expressed "grave concern" Monday over the border skirmishes and called on both sides to establish a "permanent" cease-fire.

The Indonesian foreign minister added that work must be done on "how to compromise (on) the two extreme ideas" to resolve the issue, one being to deploy a multilateral framework involving a third party and the other for bilateral negotiations.

"Gone are the days when Asean swept things under the carpet, not addressing issues head-on. This time around we wish to confront issues head-on to bring peace and harmony whenever there are difficulties between Asean states as we are doing between Cambodia and Thailand," he said.

To address the issue of territorial tensions among China and Asean members in the South China Sea, Natalegawa said Indonesia aims to finalise guidelines to strengthen the code of conduct, signed by the two sides in 2002 to ensure that the disputes are resolved diplomatically to avert military conflict.

"The management of potential conflict of the South China Sea is one of the highest priorities for Indonesia," he said.

"To finalise the guidelines, it would require a lot of efforts and especially cooperation by all the parties, including China."

He also emphasised Indonesia's bid in creating a maritime forum for the East Asia region, where countries can discuss various maritime challenges such as security, militarisation of fishing vessels and environmental issues and also transparency in military procurement.

Natalegawa met with Prime Minister Naoto Kan before completing his two-day visit.

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