Saturday, 26 February 2011

Kasit plays down Cambodian claims of success in Asean foreign ministers' meeting about border dispute

via CAAI

Published: 26/02/2011

War of words breaks out

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya is apparently giving no credence to the claims to success of his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong in the wake of Tuesday's Asean foreign ministerial meeting in Jakarta.

The meeting was brokered by Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa to cool Thai-Cambodian diplomatic tensions, which have been brought to the boil by deadly clashes in the border area near Preah Vihear temple claimed by both countries.

Hor Namhong said the Cambodian government's demands were ''responded to'' at the Asean meeting.

These demands included a ceasefire, the presence of neutral observers in the disputed area and the participation of Indonesia, as the Asean chair, in efforts to reach a resolution.

But Hor Namhong said Thailand made only a short statement to the effect that the despatch of the observers will be made in accordance with previous practices, seen when observers from Thailand and the Philippines were sent when Indonesia was involved in disputes with rebels in Aceh and with East Timor.

Cambodia has sought the involvement of the international community since the latest round of violent border clashes flared up on Feb 4, leaving a Thai civilian and a military officer dead and many injured.

But while Thailand has agreed to what was tabled at the Asean foreign ministers' meeting, Mr Kasit has sought to dampen any claims of success by Hor Namhong.

''Our issue is to forge peace and begin a negotiation progress,'' he said.

But what the Thai side was most satisfied with at the Jakarta meeting was the fact that no ceasefire was mentioned.

A Thai diplomatic source said any mention of a ceasefire might be construed as a suggestion that war was afoot, which would be to exaggerate the border clashes.

Furthermore, an observer said if any ceasefire was mentioned, Cambodia might claim the area was now at peace and ask Unesco to consider Cambodia's management plan, opposed by Thailand, for the 4.6-square-kilometre zone.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, however, rushed to announce to reporters in Cambodia on the day of the meeting that he had declined to sign a ceasefire deal with Thailand, even though he had requested Thailand to do so in Jakarta.

A notable presence at the foreign ministers' meeting was that of Hun Sen's son, Hun Manet.

The Thai diplomatic source said Hun Manet's attendance was a welcome sign, as he could report back to his father the opinions of the neutral parties.

No comments: