Sunday, 27 February 2011

Indonesian military team visits disputed Thai-Cambodia border area+

via CAAI

PHNOM PENH, Feb. 26 (AP) - (Kyodo)—A five-member Indonesian military team visited the Cambodia- Thai disputed border area on Saturday to pave the way for deployment of Indonesian observers in the region, a senior Cambodian defense official said.

Gen. Neang Phat, vice minister of national defense, told Kyodo News by telephone that the Indonesian advance team visited the ancient Cambodian temple of Preah Vihear and the surrounding area to find a suitable location for deployment, which will be made under an ASEAN- brokered deal.

He said the Indonesians spent several hours in the area and will report back to the Indonesian government, the current chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Cambodia and Thailand agreed during an ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting in Jakarta on Tuesday to invite Indonesia to deploy civilian and military observers to monitor a ceasefire agreement in the border area.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said Indonesia will dispatch two separate teams to Cambodia and Thailand, each consisting of 15 to 20 military personnel and civilians.

Neang Phat said it is unclear when the observers will start their mission but expressed hope that it will be "soon."

The observer mission will be ASEAN's first since 2005 when the regional group and the European Union set up the Aceh Monitoring Mission to oversee disarmament in Indonesia's Aceh Province following a peace agreement between Indonesia and the separatist Free Aceh Movement.

Cambodia and Thailand have been at loggerheads since 2008 over an area involving 4.6 square kilometers of land near the Indus temple shortly after it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since then several rounds of armed clashes have erupted, the most recent from Feb. 4 to 7. The conflict has left at least 10 people dead, nearly 100 wounded and more than 25,000 people displaced on both sides.

The U.N. Security Council has expressed "grave concern" over the border skirmishes and urged the establishment of a permanent cease- fire.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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