By The Nation
Published on April 29, 2011
Local military commanders reach a ceasefire deal; Kasit will seek Cabinet approval for the terms of reference to station Indonesian observers on border
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said he had not yet arranged a meeting with Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen for peace talks, although local commanders on the ground reached an agreement yesterday to cease fire at the border areas around Ta Muan temple.
Thai Second Army Region Commander Tawatchai Samutsakorn agreed with his Cambodian counterpart Chea Mon to cease hostilities and resume the border crossing arrangement at Surin province's Chong Chom checkpoint, government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said.
"But we have to closely monitor the situation until we are sure the deal will really be honoured," he said.
Military commanders have reportedly agreed ceasefires many times since skirmishes erupted last Friday at Ta Muan temple, but fighting has not stopped.
The clash has killed six Thai soldiers and two civilians and injured many others.
Army chief Prayuth Chanocha said the two commanders agreed to stop firing guns from noon yesterday. "If there is no more gunfire after noon, tension along the border will be eased," he said.
Both sides would dispatch officials to the front line to make sure the other side did not open fire again, Prayuth said.
"The ceasefire is not a solid peace agreement. We simply agreed not to fire guns anymore, but nobody can guarantee the situation," he said.
Prime Minister Abhisit said the deal between the two commanders at the local level was a good sign, paving the way to settling the conflict between the two countries.
Asked if the two leaders needed to hold ceasefire talks at the Asean meeting next month in Jakarta, Abhisit said he did not yet have a clear plan to meet Hun Sen.
The talks might not be necessary since the situation is expected to have eased before the Asean meeting, he said.
"It depends on the situation. There will be some changes and there are days from now until the Asean summit," he said.
However the conflict may be mentioned at the meeting since leaders of member countries might ask about the situation, he said.
Asean got involved in the conflict between Thailand and Cambodia after Indonesia, as the chair, was asked by the United Nations Security Council to implement a permanent ceasefire plan.
Jakarta planned to dispatch its observers to assess and monitor the situation at the ThailandCambodia border at the area adjacent to the Hindu temple of Preah Vihear.
The Indonesia observation plan has not yet happened as Thailand has not agreed to the modality of observation.
Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya discussed the details of the terms of reference (TOR) for the observation with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa yesterday in Jakarta.
The twohour discussion covered almost all details of the TOR, Kasit said, adding that Indonesia would place observers at seven spots at the border near Preah Vihear: four on the Thai side and the rest in Cambodia.
Thailand set conditions that Cambodia must not put its troops at Preah Vihear or the disputed 4.6squarekilometre area near the temple or at Wat Keo Sikha Kiri Svara.
"Observers would be placed only when Cambodia agreed with the conditions and withdrew troops from the areas," Kasit told reporters via phone conference from Jakarta.
Observation would last for six months but could be shortened if there was no gunfire during that time, he said.
Kasit said he would submit the TOR for Cabinet's approval next Tuesday.