Sunday, 8 May 2011

Indonesia to broker border talks

via CAAI


Published: 8/05/2011
Newspaper section: News

JAKARTA : Indonesia's president will talk to the prime ministers of Cambodia and Thailand today in a bid to find a solution to their border dispute.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has offered to meet Abhisit Vejjajiva and his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen on the sidelines of the Asean summit.

He will meet them separately, as the two are not yet willing to meet face to face to discuss the dispute.

However, officials hope Mr Yudhoyono can broker a solution or perhaps bring them together for a meeting before the summit ends later today.

Acting government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said the meetings will take place an hour before the Asean summit session begins at 9am.

Mr Abhisit said before leaving for Jakarta that he had no intention of holding talks with Hun Sen as the previous talks failed to bring about a permanent truce.

Cambodia had tried to internationalise the issue, while Thailand insisted on bilateral talks, he said.

The prospects for talks look poor, after Mr Abhisit and Hun Sen were locked in a war of words on the first day of the Asean summit yesterday.

Hun Sen accused Thailand of invading Cambodia's territory.

"Thailand as a big country continues to have the ambition of prolonging the armed conflict to violate weaker neighbouring Asean members," Hun Sen told assembled leaders, according to a transcript provided to reporters.

"The invasion by Thai troops into Cambodia's territory resulted in a series of clashes and eventually a large-scale war from Feb 4-7, 2011."

In a six-page statement read out at the morning session of the summit, Hun Sen said a series of military clashes along the border posed "serious challenges for Asean in its pursuit of the Asean Community by 2015".

Since July 15, 2008, Thailand had waged a "war of aggression" against Cambodia by sending troops to launch attacks along the border, he said.

"Thailand does not have the goodwill to accept Indonesian observers and does not have the willingness to settle this dispute in accordance with international law and by peaceful means," Hun Sen said.

Asean diplomatic sources described Hun Sen's speech as dramatic and surprising, given that it was off the agenda.

Mr Abhisit did not have a chance to respond immediately as he was busy in talks with Philippine President Benigno Aquino.

Mr Abhisit returned to the meeting shortly afterwards and told Asean leaders that Thailand has never wanted to cause problems with its neighbours.

The prosperity and stability of its neighbours benefited Thailand, Mr Abhisit said.

Bilateral efforts to defuse the conflict were still working, Mr Abhisit said, citing the Joint Boundary Commission meeting that took place last month in Bogor, Indonesia.

"Thailand has been trying to work things out, but Cambodia seems to want to internationalise a bilateral dispute," Mr Abhisit said.

Asean leaders also shared their concerns and hoped the problem would not escalate, sources added.

The Thai and Cambodian foreign ministers met on Friday night, but did not discuss the issue of withdrawing troops from Preah Vihear temple.

Thailand has approved the terms of reference for the deployment of a team of Indonesian observers on the condition that Cambodia withdraws its troops from Preah Vihear and the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda.

No comments: