Thai army upset about Indonesia as third party
Newspaper section: News
Cambodia has agreed to a two-day General Border Committee meeting with Thailand in Bogor on March24-25 but the Thai army is not happy about the presence of Indonesia as a third party mediator.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi yesterday said Phnom Penh had confirmed it agreed to Indonesia's proposal to organise the GBC meeting in Indonesia and that Thailand welcomes Cambodia's readiness to attend.
The GBC is co-chaired by the defence ministers of the two countries.
Mr Thani said that on this occasion Thailand could discuss with Cambodia the terms for Indonesia to send observers to the Thai-Cambodian border to monitor the situation.
Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya on Tuesday replied by letter to Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa over the proposed meeting. He said Thailand was ready to attend but he wanted to have further discussions about the details, including the format, venue and date.
An army source said its Border Affairs Department had sent a letter notifying Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon about the meeting, which will be held in Bogor in West Java.
If both sides agree to attend the meeting proposed by Indonesia it would be the first time the GBC has met in a third country, the source said.
Gen Prawit last week called his Cambodian counterpart Tea Banh on the telephone asking him to bring forward from April to March the 8th GBC meeting, which was originally to be hosted by Cambodia in Siem Reap.
"But Gen Tea Banh has not yet replied. This is believed to be because Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen does not want the meeting to be bilateral," the source said.
The source said the Thai side actually wants the GBC to be a forum for military leaders of the two countries to meet and talk and is disgruntled about the presence of the Indonesian third party.
Meanwhile, the Thai government sees no problems if the Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) meeting with Cambodia is held in Indonesia on March27-28, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday.
With or without a third-party observer, as long as Cambodia was willing to attend the meeting it would be a positive indication that relations between the two nations could move forward, Mr Abhisit said.