Monday, February 14, 2011
BANGKOK -- Thailand has agreed to join an urgent meeting among Southeast Asian nations to discuss its border conflict with Cambodia, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Sunday.
Armored personnel carriers from the Cambodian Army drive through a road in Kampong Thom town, about 168 kilometers (104 mikes) north of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Saturday, Feb. 12. Kampong Thom is the neighboring province to Preah Vihear where the 11th century Hindu Preah Vihear temple is located, near the border between Cambodia and Thailand. (AP)
Abhisit, addressing his weekly TV program, confirmed that a meeting of foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will take place in Jakarta on February 26 to discuss the Thai-Cambodian conflict over Preah Vihear temple, which sparked border battles earlier this month.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa initiated the urgent meeting as part of his diplomatic effort to find a peaceful solution to an ongoing territorial dispute between the two ASEAN countries.
Both Cambodian and Thailand are members of ASEAN, which also includes Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.
Fighting broke up between Thai and Cambodian troops based near the 11th-century Hindu temple between February 4-7, killing three Thais and five Cambodians and leaving dozens wounded on both sides.
It was the latest of several skirmishes to flare up on the Thai-Cambodian border since July 2008, when UNESCO declared the temple a World Heritage Site despite Thai objections that a 4.6-square-kilometer plot of land adjacent to the temple was still under a sovereignty dispute.
Thailand has maintained that the border conflict should be settled bilaterally, but Cambodia is pushing, with apparent success, for international intervention.
Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong will meet in New York on Monday to explain their stance on the issue to the United Nations Security Council.
Foreign Minister Natalegawa of Indonesia, which currently chairs ASEAN, will attend the U.N. meeting and then host an ASEAN meeting on the conflict on Feb. 26.
He has said his role will be to facilitate a bilateral solution between Bangkok and Phnom Penh.
Preah Vihear temple has been a bone of contention between Thailand and Cambodia for the past five decades, leading to a cessation of diplomatic ties in 1958.
The two countries agreed to have the sovereignty spat settled at the International Court which in 1962 ruled that the temple belonged to Cambodia.
The court decision did not rule on the territory adjacent to the temple, which now both countries claim.