Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Thailand to explain border conflict with Cambodia to UN

via CAAI

Feb 9, 2011

Bangkok - Thailand is to send its foreign minister to the UN Security Council in New York next week to give its version of a border conflict with Cambodia, officials said Wednesday.

Kasit Piromya is to attend a council meeting on the conflict over disputed land near the 11th-century Preah Vihear border temple, which erupted into open fighting last week, leaving three Thais and five Cambodians dead.

'We're taking it as a good opportunity to inform the Security Council what transpired,' Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongpakdi said.

The foreign ministers of Cambodia and Indonesia were also expected to attend the meeting, which has been called by council president Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, sources said.

Marty Natalegawa - the foreign minister of Indonesia, which now holds the rotating chairmanship of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) - has stepped in to facilitate a bilateral solution between the two other ASEAN members.

'In the final analysis, the issue between Thailand and Cambodia must be addressed and can only be addressed bilaterally because this is a border issue that needs to be negotiated,' Natalegawa said Tuesday after visiting Bangkok and Phnom Penh.

Cambodia has sought Security Council involvement to speed up a solution to the dispute over the Hindu temple, which is perched on a cliff in the Dangrek mountain range that vaguely defines the border and has been a bone of contention for more than five decades.

In 1962, the International Court of Justice decided the temple belonged to Cambodia but failed to rule on a 4.6-square-kilometre plot of land nearby that both countries claim.

Bangkok faulted UNESCO for exacerbating the sovereignty spat when it declared the temple a world heritage site in July 2008 despite Thai objections.

The decision prompted both sides to beef up their troops in the disputed area, about 450 kilometres north-east of Bangkok, leading to several skirmishes since.

Thailand insisted the dispute should be handled by the Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary, a body set up a decade ago to resolve border-demarcation issues.

This month's fighting has damaged the temple. A column at one building had been hit and was broken while the wing of another building had collapsed.

Cambodia has blamed the Thai military for shelling the temple and has requested that UNESCO send a team to assess the damage.

'I intend to send a mission to the area as soon as possible to assess the state of the temple,' UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova said Tuesday in Paris, where the organization maintains its world headquarters.

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