Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Preah Vihear still a powder keg

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A Cambodian soldier monitors his sights near the Preah Vihear border yesterday

via CAAI

Monday, 07 February 2011 16:00 Sam Rith

Prime Minister Hun Sen today called on his Thai counterpart, Abhisit Vejjajiva, to allow the United Nations Security Council to intervene in “serious” military clashes between Cambodia and Thailand that continued for a fourth consecutive day this morning.

At a graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh today, the Cambodian Premier said talks between the two sides to end fighting in the disputed Preah Vihear border area had become impossible.

“Now the situation is getting serious…the two sides cannot listen to each other …now we ask for urgent intervention from the United Nations,” he said.

“[I] would like to insistently call on the president and members of the Security Council to convene an urgent meeting to curb the conflict from spreading and threatening the regional security of Southeast Asia,” he said.

Abhisit has said that no international mediation is necessary to resolve the border demarcation issue, as the Joint Border Commission already proves an efficient framework for negotiations, according to a statement from the National News Bureau of Thailand today.

The statement added that Abhisit has said ASEAN can request updates on the status of ongoing negotiations.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement today he was "deeply concerned" and urged both sides to cease fire and find a "lasting solution" to the dispute, echoing a similar statement by Washington over the weekend.

Hun Sen said Foreign Affairs minister Hor Namhong would be dispatched to such a meeting and urged his Thai counterpart to also defer to mediation of the fighting by the United Nations Security Council.

“Please do not fear the third party, either the ASEAN or the United Nations or others,” he said.

“If we are loyal…please do not fear the police, for the person who is not a thief does not fear the police.”

Meanwhile, the premier also welcomed the scheduled arrival of Indonesian Foreign Minister Chairman Marty M. Natalegawa later today, extending his pleas for intervention to the regional association. Indonesia currently holds the rotating chairmanship of ASEAN.

“Cambodia welcomes the urgent intervention of ASEAN,” he said.

The dispute over parts of the disputed Preah Vihear temple complex erupted on Friday when Cambodian military sources alleged Thai soldiers had encroached on their territory and refused to retreat, prompting firefights between the two armies.

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