Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Thai, Cambodian foreign ministers agree to Indonesian observers


via CAAI

9 May 2011 278
BY: BNO News

JAKARTA, INDONESIA (BNO NEWS) -- The foreign ministers of Cambodia and Thailand agreed to allow the deployment of Indonesian monitors to their disputed border area, the Bangkok Post reported Monday.

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong met after the two countries' prime ministers Abhisit Vejjajiva and Hun Sen failed to reach an agreement during talks at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit on Sunday. The agreement must still be approved by both leaders, however.

"The achievement this afternoon exceeded my expectations," Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said after mediating the talks. "I'm not underestimating the scale of the problem, but they have overcome their mutually exclusive demands."

The two sides had signed up to Indonesia's proposal to send observers to monitor a ceasefire on their common border on February 22 at the Asean Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Jakarta. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, however, insisted Cambodian troops leave the 4.6-square-kilometer disputed border area before Indonesian observers arrive.

The Cambodian side, meanwhile, had insisted that the monitoring team be deployed before any negotiations on troop withdrawal could resume.

On Sunday, the Chong Jom border crossing opened and over 80% of Thai and Cambodian vendors reopened their stalls at a local market near the border pass on the Thai side.

Tensions first escalated between the two countries in July 2008 following the build-up of military forces near the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple. The United Nations Security Council urged both sides to establish a permanent ceasefire after at least 10 people were killed.

Clashes resumed in February as both nations claim the lands surrounding the ancient Hindu Temple, which has been damaged due to the conflict. The Preah Vihear temple dates back to the 11th century and is located on the Cambodian side of the border.

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