By The Nation
Published on May 6, 2011
Indonesian observers will be allowed if Phnom Penh troops, citizens retreat
Thailand is throwing the ball back at Indonesia and Cambodia over the plan to deploy Indonesian observers in the disputed border area by making it a precondition that Cambodia pull out its troops and civilians first.
"I don't know if Cambodia will agree to this," Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday, "But Indonesia should raise and discuss this issue with Cambodia".
Earlier, Thailand was blamed for dragging its feet in the planned deployment.
Abhisit yesterday said his government would not sign any document to give the green light for the Indonesian observers to come in for as long as the Cambodia did not agree to move its troops and citizens out of the 4.6squarekilometre overlapping area along Thai - Cambodian borderline.
Abhisit said by allowing its people and soldiers to stay in the overlapping area, Cambodia had violated an important Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries.
The Thai premier added that progresses from Indonesia's talks with Thailand and its talks with Cambodia would determine whether he would discuss the issue at the Asean meetings this weekend.
Abhisit is scheduled to fly to Indonesia this evening to attend the Asean Summit.
According to him, Thailand in fact has no objection against the proposed terms of reference (TOR) for the deployment of Indonesian observers.
Indonesia, the current chair of Asean, has been trying to mediate in the border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand. Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said he would meet with his Thai and Cambodian counterparts in Jakarta today to discuss on the ToR on the sidelines of the Asean meetings.
Border clashes between Thailand and Cambodia erupted in the overlapping area near the Preah Vihear Temple last month with casualties reported on both sides. To the two countries, the ancient Hindu temple has been a thorny issue.
Thailand has long maintained that although the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in 1962 that the Preah Vihear Temple belongs to Cambodia, the ruling does not say its sprawling complex is on the Cambodian soil too.
Thailand was apparently upset when Cambodia unilaterally asked the the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) to inscribe the Preah Vihear Temple as a worldheritage on its soil a few years ago. Thailand has also strongly opposed to Cambodia's management plan of the Preah Vihear Temple and its sprawling complex.
Last month, Cambodia went to ICJ asking it to clarify its 1962 ruling. The move prompted the Thai government to quickly form a legal team to handle the issue.
Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya went to Europe earlier this week to consult foreign legal experts in preparations for the case.