Newspaper section: News
The government is adopting a wait-and-see approach regarding the Thai-Cambodian border fighting, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday.
Christopher Riess, the chief executive officer of WAN-IFRA, presents an image of the Bangkok Post ’s front page to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday at the Publish Asia 2011 international conference at the Shangri-La Hotel. Witnessing the presentation are Akapol Sorasuchart, the president of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, and M.R. Pridiyathorn Devakula, the chairman of Post Publishing Plc. PATIPAT JANTHONG
If the ceasefire agreed by military personnel at the local level holds, both sides can then begin to talk specifics in terms of military deployment and a return to normalcy, the premier said.
''We are hopeful that there will be peace and calm over the next few days to allow people to move back to their communities. We have to wait a day or two to make sure that it is safe for them to go back,'' Mr Abhisit said at a meeting with Asian editors during the annual WAN Ifra Publish Asia event.
He insisted the truce was a step forward as both sides will immediately contact each other if there are any developments. Such contact clearly had been missing during the past several days of border fighting.
''We hope that Cambodia will now stop, talk and get back to the table. We have got so many bilateral mechanisms that can work,'' Mr Abhisit said.
Mr Abhisit remained non-committal about meeting Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen at the upcoming Asean summit in Jakarta.
''I expect him to be there. We will sit in the same room but I haven't scheduled a bilateral discussion with anyone. But I have always been open to talking,'' he said.
Asked why Thailand has appeared to be reluctant in allowing Asean to become involved in settling the conflict, Mr Abhisit replied: ''What is the reluctance of Cambodia to resolve the issue in bilateral ways? Who knows the problems better than Thailand and Cambodia?''
Regarding Indonesian observers, who have not yet been deployed, Mr Abhisit said that Thailand has accepted the principles of the issue and only a few technical issues need to be worked out.
''You have to be careful not to let the observers issue become a spark for a new conflict,'' he said.
''We have to agree exactly where they will be placed. Cambodia started talking about placing their group of observers in the disputed area. That is a non-starter because we will do the same and they will be in the same place.''
Mr Abhisit, however, confirmed that the government shares the same precondition with the army that Cambodian troops must be pulled out from Preah Vihear temple area before international observers can be brought in.
He said that in his opinion, the armed clashes have occurred because the border issues have become internationalised.
''Trouble spots are around temples,'' Mr Abhisit said, implying the heightened sensitivity occurs when nationalism is brought into the border conflict.
''Why aren't the two countries allowed to solve their own problems? The more new mechanisms are created [to mediate in the conflict], the more complicated the conflict will become.''