Friday, 4 March 2011

Border tension flares up again

via CAAI

Plan for foreign military attache visit stirs Thai ire

Published: 3/03/2011 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News

Border tensions have risen again following Thailand's opposition to Cambodia's plan to take 10 international assistant military attaches into the 4.6-square-kilometre disputed area.

Cambodia plans to take the 10 assistant military attaches from Phnom Penh to visit the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda and surrounding areas which are in disputed territory, said a Thai army source. Cambodia hoped to show the international community that those areas belonged to Cambodia.

"When Thailand led 14 military attaches on a border visit in February we went only as far as Pha Mor I Dang and Ban Phum Srol. We never set foot in the disputed area," the source said.

Although Cambodia had changed the border visit day from yesterday to today, the military would continue to object to the visit and has ordered troop reinforcements as a precautionary measure, said the source.

The Thai military attache to Phnom Penh contacted the international assistant military attaches in Cambodia and learned that they had asked to postpone the visit to avoid triggering more problems, said another army source.

The military has also received a report that the Cambodian prime minister was adjusting troops at the border, replacing the current contingent with soldiers from the former Khmer Rouge.

The Khmer Rouge effectively ceased to exist in late 1999 when most of its remaining leaders surrendered.

The replacement was seen as an aggressive rather than peaceful gesture.

Meanwhile, Threerakul Niyom, permanent secretary to the Foreign Ministry, said Indonesia has relayed to Thailand details of its plan to send military observers to monitor the disputed border area.

The Defence Minsitry is now considering the information.

Thailand and Cambodia agreed at an informal meeting of Asean foreign ministers in Jakarta on Feb 22 to allow a team of observers from Indonesia to assess the situation.

Unesco's director-general Irina Bokova yesterday said she was pleased at progress in a series of meetings between the Unesco special envoy Koichiro Matsuura, and the Thai and Cambodian leaders, held between Feb 27 and Tuesday, to safeguard the world heritage site of Preah Vihear.

She said Unesco would do everything in its power to keep talks going.

"The world's cultural heritage should never be a cause for conflict."

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