Saturday, 7 May 2011

Stormy Asean summit looms

via CAAI

Cambodia says it won't pull troops from border

Published: 7/05/2011 at 12:12 AM
Online news: Asia

JAKARTA: A stormy Asean summit looks likely after the Cambodian foreign minister accused Thailand of dragging its feet over their border dispute.

In a statement to a ministerial meeting held Friday ahead of the formal summit launch on Saturday, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong accused Thailand of back-pedalling in implementing border solutions.

His Thai counterpart Kasit Piromya replied that it was inappropriate to discuss the issue, as the Asean chairman, Indonesia Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, had already raised it.

He said if Cambodia wanted to talk about border problems again, lengthy discussions were likely to result.

Mr Marty, in his capacity as Asean chairman, cut short further debate and no other Asean foreign ministers said anything except for the Lao minister, who called for a peaceful solution.

Meanwhile, Hor Namhong rejected a Thai demand that Cambodia withdraw troops from the disputed area close to the Preah Vihear temple, saying Bangkok was not sincere about peace.

Mr Marty in February proposed posting Indonesian observers along the border.

The Thai cabinet approved the deployment proposal on Tuesday, but set a condition that Cambodia must withdraw its troops from around the Preah Vihear temple first.

Hor Namhong rejected the demand, asking why Cambodia should withdraw its troops from land that it regarded as its own.

"We can never withdraw our troops from our own territory. That should be very clear," Hor Namhong told reporters after a meeting with Mr Marty.

He said Cambodia was still waiting for Thailand's agreement to Jakarta's terms of reference for sending Indonesian observers to monitor the border area.

"Cambodia sent a letter of acceptance to the proposal on May 2 and we hope Thailand will do likewise," said Hor Namhong.

Cambodia had agreed with the three proposed locations for the deployment of Indonesian observers on its side.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Thursday that Cambodian soldiers and villagers must leave the 4.6-square-kilometre disputed border area before Thailand would acquiesce to the deployment.

He said the demand was based on the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between Thailand and Cambodia in 2000.

Hor Namhong Friday thanked Mr Marty for his efforts to address the border conflict. Mr Marty thanked him in return for Cambodia's formal agreement to the deployment.

Mr Kasit also met Mr Marty Friday.

Mr Kasit said Cambodia had launched aggressive acts at the border and now threatened to take the dispute to the International Court of Justice.

Cambodia last week petitioned the court to clarify its 1962 ruling to determine which country has sovereignty over land near the temple.

The court will hold a hearing on May 30-31.

Mr Abhisit arrived in Jakarta Friday, as did Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. Mr Abhisit has said he has no plans for talks with Hun Sen.

Diplomatic sources said Phnom Penh wanted to show goodwill by pushing the possible option of a three-way meeting on the sidelines of the summit, to save Jakarta's face.

Mr Marty said Friday that he hoped such a meeting could be held.

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