Published: 11/05/2011 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News
Thailand has sent a "strong message" reiterating that Cambodia must withdraw its troops from the disputed area around Preah Vihear temple.If Cambodia refuses, then the so-called "package solution" agreed by the foreign ministers of the two countries on Monday in Jakarta will not be put into practice.
Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, in an interview shortly after arriving at Suvarnabhumi airport from Indonesia yesterday, insisted that the Indonesian observer team would be allowed to be stationed in Thailand only if Cambodia first withdrew its soldiers from the 4.6-square-kilometre disputed area.
Mr Kasit said he and his Cambodian counterpart agreed on the package solution proposed by Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, who mediated Monday's talks to defuse ongoing border clashes that erupted at the beginning of February.
The solution would allow the deployment of Indonesian observers.
Mr Kasit said under the solution Thailand would exchange the terms of reference (TOR) with Indonesia in the first step but that this would have to be approved by the Thai cabinet next week.
He said if approved, the TOR would first allow Indonesia's survey team to travel to Thailand to talk with the Si Sa Ket governor and survey four locations where observers could be stationed.
Mr Kasit said in the second step the two countries must hold a General Border Committee meeting to discuss Cambodia's troop withdrawal in detail.
"If [Cambodia] refuses to withdraw, the observers can't come," said Mr Kasit.
Thailand had sent protest notes on 13 occasions to Cambodia, the United Nations, Unesco and the World Heritage Committee.
He refuted allegations that Thailand was dragging its feet on the TOR issue by setting the condition that Cambodia must withdraw its troops first.
Mr Kasit said the arrival of the observers amid the presence of Cambodian soldiers in the disputed area would give credence to Cambodia's claims to the land and would be a self-admission by Thailand of the loss of its territory.