By Harvey Morris at the United Nations
Published: February 14 2011
Thailand and Cambodia have taken their border dispute to the UN Security Council, but it showed no inclination to take up Phnom Penh’s request for a contingent of peacekeepers.
The 15-member council met on Monday, at Cambodia’s request, to hear from both sides on a conflict that centres on the ancient Khmer temple ruins of Preah Vihear. Recent clashes there have left 11 dead.
The council ended its closed meeting with a statement calling for “maximum restraint” from both sides and implementation of a permanent ceasefire and pledging its support for bilateral and regional efforts to resolve the dispute.
The Security Council has deferred to mediation by the Association of South East Asian Nations, to which both countries belong. Foreign ministers Kasit Piromya of Thailand and Hor Namhong of Cambodia both addressed the closed council meeting, which also heard a situation report from Lynn Pascoe, the UN’s political affairs chief.
The two ministers presented maps to illustrate the situation on the ground and to underline their rival claims.
Thailand had rejected a proposal by Cambodia that UN peacekeepers should be posted on the disputed border. The Cambodia minister, however, cast doubt on the bilateral process by saying it had not worked in the past. He welcomed UN support for Asean’s third-party role.
Mr Kasit said after the meeting the issue would be resolved bilaterally and that there was no need for further UN involvement. He said the issue of deploying UN peacekeepers was not raised at the Security Council. Referring to the neighbours’ “common future”, he said Thailand hoped for more development and prosperity in Cambodia.
He did not confirm any plans to have bilateral talks with his Cambodia counterpart while the two men were in New York.
Mr Hor Namhong said his country was the victim of “Thai aggression in which they used cluster munitions forbidden by the world community”.
Marty Natalegwa, Indonesian foreign minister and chief Asean mediator, said he was much more optimistic about a settlement than before the meeting and had no reason to doubt the commitment of both sides.
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