Tuesday, 15 February 2011

UN calls for permanent Thai-Cambodia ceasefire

via CAAI

Posted: 15 February 2011

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council on Monday called for a "permanent ceasefire" between Thailand and Cambodia after a border dispute erupted into deadly clashes last week around a Hindu temple.

Council president Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti of Brazil made the call after a closed-door session with the foreign ministers of Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia, which has attempted to mediate the conflict.

A view of the Preah Vihear temple on the disputed Cambodian-Thai border.

"Members of the Security Council urge the parties to establish a permanent ceasefire and to implement it fully," she said.

She said council members expressed "great concern" over the clashes and "called on the two sides to display maximum restraint and avoid any action that may aggravate the situation."

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong had gone into the meeting seeking a "permanent ceasefire" while Thailand, represented by Foreign Minister Kasi Piromya, had insisted that the two neighbours settle the dispute among themselves.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegwa, who has tried to mediate the dispute, also took part in the Security Council session.

The two Southeast Asian neighbours blame each other for the crisis, which has left at least 10 dead, including seven Cambodians, in clashes with heavy weapons last week.

They are fighting over a border area that surrounds the Preah Vihear temple, an 11th century cliff-top ruin that belongs to Cambodia but whose designation as a World Heritage site has touched off the ire of Thai nationalists.

Accusing Thailand of launching an "invading war" against it, Cambodia "will also ask the United Nations to help secure a permanent ceasefire" between the two nations, Cambodian foreign ministry spokesman Koy Kuong told AFP in Phnom Penh ahead of the meeting.

On Sunday, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said his foreign minister would insist that the crisis be settled on a bilateral basis without outside intervention.

"We're confident that we can explain that (Cambodia's claims) are wrong," he said in his weekly television address.

"Cambodia is calling for (intervention by) a third country, the UN and peacekeeping forces. Thailand will call for a return to bilateral talks on demarcation," he said.

Abhisit has laid the blame for the crisis on UNESCO's decision to declare the temple ruins, the most celebrated example of ancient Khmer architecture outside of Cambodia's Angkor Wat, a World Heritage site even though the land around it is disputed.

The World Court ruled in 1962 that the temple belonged to Cambodia but both countries claim ownership of a 4.6-square-kilometre surrounding area.

"The war was not caused by the listing of the temple, but by Thailand's invasion of Cambodian territory," said Koy Kuong, the Cambodian spokesman. "They want not only the territory, but also the temple."

On Tuesday, Ban spoke by telephone with the leaders of both countries to renew his offer to help them negotiate a settlement.

The Security Council for its part had said it was prepared to meet on the crisis but wanted to give more time for a mediation attempt by Indonesia, the current president of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

- AFP/de

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