Saturday, 30 April 2011

Cambodia denies breaking ceasefire with Thailand

via CAAI

Apr 29, 2011

Thailand Foreign Minister Kasit Priromya addresses to journalists during a joint press conference with his Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa (not in picture) in Jakarta, Indonesia 28 April 2011. Kasit and Marty are meeting to discuss border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia. EPA/ADI WEDA

Phnom Penh/Bangkok - Cambodia on Friday denied having anything to do with the death of a Thai soldier allegedly killed on the border overnight, hours after a ceasefire agreement.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha, chief of the Thai army, said earlier that Cambodia renewed their shelling of Thai positions after Thursday's agreement, killing one soldier.

A spokesman for the Cambodian government denied the accusation, saying that the Thai forces broke the ceasefire.

'Yesterday night, we did not fire a single shot back to Thailand,' Phay Siphan said Friday. He said he felt Thailand had agreed to the truce only to 'prepare another offensive.'

He said the Thai military had fired six mortar shells into Cambodian territory overnight in a 'provocative act.' 'But we restrain ourselves and we don't return fire,' he said.

The border area was currently quiet, he told German Press Agency dpa around 11 am (0400 GMT).

A meeting between Thai and Cambodian generals scheduled for 10 am had not taken place because the Thai side had failed to show up, he said.

The fighting, which broke out on April 22 around disputed temples on the border, has resulted in the deaths of seven Thai and eight Cambodian soldiers, as well as one Thai civilian death, and more than 60 people wounded on both sides.

Each side has blamed the other for instigating the conflict.

On Thursday, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said Bangkok would welcome a long-standing offer from Indonesia to station observers at the Thai-Cambodian border to monitor the ceasefire, and that Bangkok was 'sincere and earnest' in its desire for peace.

Kasit was speaking after talks Thursday with his Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa. Indonesia, the current chair of Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), has been tasked with mediating between the two sides.

Cambodia has long said it wanted Indonesian border monitors, but a deal to place them stalled Monday when Thailand objected to some of the details in the agreement.

Bangkok has requested that the deal include the removal of Cambodian troops from temples along the border, a condition which Phnom Penh has refused to accept.

Cambodia said that more than 31,000 of its citizens had fled the border region, while Kasit said around 50,000 Thai civilians had been evacuated from their villages.

Thailand has blamed UNESCO for exacerbating the tensions with its decision in 2008 to list the 11th-century temple of Preah Vihear, one of the contentious sites, as a World Heritage Site, despite Thai claims that a 4.6-square-kilometre area near the temple is still the subject of a five-decade border demarcation dispute.

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