Monday, 21 February 2011

PM denies truce signed

via CAAI

Govt emphasises need for detailed negotiation

Published: 21/02/2011
Newspaper section: News

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva denies a ceasefire agreement has been signed with Cambodia.

The prime minister said again in his weekly broadcast address yesterday that his government believed that a lasting solution to the border dispute could only come through careful negotiation.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations foreign ministers meet in Jakarta tomorrow to find ways to solve the border dispute, but Mr Abhisit said the regional grouping would only act as a coordinator and as a witness, as well as provide a facility for talks between Thailand and Cambodia.

He and members of the cabinet, including the foreign, defence and the natural resources ministers, would be responsible for explaining the border situation to the world community so people could better understand the situation.

Mr Abhisit said he had talked on the phone with Unesco director-general Irina Bokova about the problems arising from the listing of the Preah Vihear temple as a world heritage site. He said Unesco should suspend the process of listing the surrounding area until the border problem was settled.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said yesterday the proposed permanent ceasefire was unnecessary. Peace on the border could be achieved through existing bilateral mechanisms.

These include the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Committee, the Thai-Cambodia General Border Committee and the Thai-Cambodian Regional Border Committee.

Mr Kasit yesterday attended a meeting to discuss preparations for the Asean meeting in Jakarta tomorrow, which will be attended by all 10 member nations' foreign ministers.

A delegation led by army chief-of-staff Daopong Rattanasuwan was reported on Saturday to have signed a ceasefire agreement with Phnom Penh, whose team was headed by deputy army commander Hun Manet, the son of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

But Mr Kasit insisted the meeting on Saturday was not about negotiations.

It was merely a discussion between military authorities and the results would be referred to higher authorities for a decision on what next step to take.

The minister said no agreement had been reached and there were no binding effects from the talks.

"It was only a discussion," he said. "It was like sending subordinates to meet for talks and having them report the results [to those in higher places]."

Mr Kasit said any formal negotiations would involve the defence ministers of the two countries under the framework of the General Border Committee.

Mr Kasit said he would emphasise Thailand's position at the Asean foreign ministers' meeting tomorrow that it wished to resolve the border conflict through bilateral mechanisms, including the Joint Boundary Committee, chaired by Asda Jayanama, the General Border Committee, led by Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, and the Regional Border Committee, headed by 2nd Army chief Thawatchai Samutsakhon.

"We will explain that the JBC, the GBC and the RBC have been making progress and they can continue to act in line with a UN Security Council resolution [supporting bilateral talks to settle the dispute]."

The minister said he would also reaffirm Thailand's readiness to allow Asean to act as a facilitator in talks between Thailand and Cambodia.

He said Mr Asda had written to ask the head of the Cambodian delegation to attend a Joint Boundary Committee meeting in Bangkok.

Gen Prawit will also send a letter to ask his Cambodian counterpart, Gen Teah Banh, to hold a General Border Committee meeting in Cambodia in the middle of the year, Mr Kasit said.

The joint committee focuses on border demarcation talks while the general committee involves border security arrangements, particularly a ceasefire, Mr Kasit said.

He said Thailand is ready for talks under the framework set by the two committees, and it was up to Cambodia to decide whether it would enter the talks.

He said Thailand would also ask Indonesia, as Asean chair, to send its representatives to observe the operations of Thai soldiers in the disputed area.

He said the observers would stay with Thai soldiers on the Thai side of the border so they could see for themselves that Thailand was not the instigator of any violence.

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