Thursday, 10 February 2011

UNSC to hear border claims

via CAAI

Cambodian PM accuses Abhisit of war crimes

Published: 10/02/2011  

Thailand and Cambodia have agreed to address the UN Security Council on Monday as part of efforts to resolve the border conflict.

M60A1 tanks are transported to Si Sa Ket’s Kantharalak district to reinforce troops along the Cambodian border following clashes over four days starting last Friday near Preah Vihear temple. JETJARAS NA RANONG

The meeting is expected to present an opportunity for Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya to come face to face with his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong to discuss a solution.

Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Thani Thongpakdi said the UNSC had invited the Asean chairman, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, Mr Kasit and Hor Namhong to clarify events surrounding the recent military clashes and the issues dogging efforts to find a solution to the border problem.

Mr Kasit would take the opportunity to discuss solutions with Hor Namhong on the sidelines of the meeting, Mr Thani said.

The spokesman reiterated the UNSC was not acting as a mediator but both sides had agreed that if they present the facts directly to the world body, it would be useful for the council.

Despite apparent headway in diplomatic efforts, tensions remained evident on both sides of the border near Preah Vihear temple yesterday.

More heavy armament was seen being deployed along the border by both countries which has raised concern over possible renewed fighting.

More than 30 M60A1 tanks from the Lop Buri-based 5th Cavalry Battalion rolled into Si Sa Ket's Kantharalak district yesterday morning, much to the excitement of local residents.

A large number of troop reinforcements were mobilised in the province under what the army called a "territorial defence plan".

An army source said the mobilisation of extra forces was intended to send a signal to Cambodia and back the Foreign Ministry's and the government's planned talks with Phnom Penh.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen indicated yesterday he had no intention of backing down soon, accusing Thailand of committing war crimes in the four days of cross border shelling that resulted in at least eight deaths and scores of injuries on both sides.

He and Cambodia's deputy army chief, Gen Hing Bunheang, also accused Thailand of using cluster bombs during the clashes, according to the Phnom Penh Post. Thai army sources furiously denied the claims, saying only conventional weapons were being used.

"Thailand is making this war, not Cambodia, and Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva must take responsibility for these war crimes," Hun Sen said, adding the conflict was not just an armed clash but a "real war".

"The shelling at the temple and pagoda are one among the war crimes," he said. "We have to take prolonged action, not just one or two days to finish it ... We have to make a long-term strategy to struggle with Thailand ... To struggle with Thailand takes not one day, one year, [but] many years," the Cambodian leader was quoted by Phnom Penh Post as saying.

Prime Minister Abhisit said yesterday he affirmed with United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon that Thailand exercised the right to defend itself when the border clashes erupted.

He said Thai retaliation was proportionate with Cambodia's use of force and it did not target civilians in the military offensive.

He told the UN chief in a telephone call that over 10,000 villagers were evacuated for safety reasons.

He said he was ready to send photos to the United Nations to prove that Preah Vihear temple was being used to mount attacks on Thailand.

The UN chief inquired about the damage to Preah Vihear and agreed to discuss the issue with Unesco, Mr Abhisit said.

"I reminded him of what I told him last year. The listing and the management plan would intensify the tension. The UN chief agreed to discuss the matter with Unesco," he said.

Mr Abhisit said the dispute could still be resolved through bilateral talks as widely anticipated.

"The defence ministers of both countries have agreed to hold talks. So the efforts to resolve the issue at the bilateral level, as the UN wants to see, are still on," he said.

Mr Abhisit expressed confidence that the UN was likely to support attempts to resolve the border conflict at the bilateral level.

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