Wednesday, 11 May 2011

PM Abhisit takes border peace one step back with new conditions

via CAAI

By Piyanart Srivalo,
Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation
Published on May 11, 2011

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva took the Indonesia-brokered peace solution back to square one yesterday as he insisted that Cambodia withdraw its troops "before" a team of observers can be accepted and added an extra condition by requesting that Jakarta dispatch an advance survey team to the border area.

Foreign ministers from Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand met in Jakarta on Monday and agreed to combine all conditions and demands from both sides into one package. However, under the package, all parties must refrain from setting prerequisites before the package is implemented.

"We talk about who must do what in advance before taking the next step. It is a process, not an event-by-event thing," Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said.

To be more precise, he said it would happen when Thailand had formally agreed with the terms of reference (TOR) of the team of Indonesian observers, and at the same time Phnom Penh had announced the meeting of the military-run General Border Committee (GBC).

Initially, both sides agreed to the text of the TOR, but Thailand would not officially accept it until Cambodia withdrew its troops from the disputed areas and the Preah Vihear temple. Bangkok wants the troop withdrawal to be discussed by the GBC.

For its part, Cambodia has rejected the condition and is refusing to call the GBC meeting until Thailand formally accepts the team of observers.

In the Cabinet meeting yesterday, Abhisit said he would have the new peace package considered by the Cabinet as well as propose that Indonesia send an advance survey team to the border before the TOR and troop withdrawal is discussed.

Premier's proposal of an advance team is a modification

Abhisit's proposal of an advance team is a modification, because the four-page TOR - a copy of which was seen by The Nation - does not mention any advance teams. The TOR mostly indicates the role of the team of observers and the location where they will be stationed.

The prime minister also said he wanted the conflict in the border areas of Ta Muen Thom and Ta Khwai in Surin province, where a serious military clash broke out in late April, to be included in the peace package.

Cambodia has not put any additional conditions in the package because, as Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told Kyodo News, his government was ready to accept the package, which involves a series of steps to be taken by the two countries under a specific timeline.

Speaking to reporters upon arrival from the Jakarta peace talks, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said there would be no implementation of the peace package until Cambodia withdrew its troops from Preah Vihear and adjacent areas.

Thailand has been consistently calling for the withdrawal of Cambodian troops, because a military presence goes against the spirit of the Hague Convention for the protection of cultural property and the memorandum of understanding signed in 2000 by both countries, he said.

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