JAKARTA, Indonesia, May 8 -- Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen discussed the border conflict between their countries Sunday in the Indonesian capital with the former insisting that Phnom Penh troops must first be withdrawn from the disputed border area before negotiations could commence.
The meeting took place on the sidelines of the two-day 18th summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) which opened yesterday. It was also attended by Thai and Cambodian foreign ministers Kasit Piromya and Hor Namhong respectively, as well as Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa in his capacity as chairman of ASEAN.
The meeting, which lasted about one hour, ended with little progress, as Mr Hun Sen demanded the Thai government leader follow an earlier agreement that Indonesian observers be dispatched to the disputed border area and insisting that Cambodian troops would not withdraw from that area.
As no sign of concrete conclusion, especially on the dispatch Indonesian observers in to the disputed border, was reached, it was agreed that Thai and Cambodian foreign ministers would meet on Monday in Jakarta to discuss the issue again.
Despite no progress in Sunday’s meeting, ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying “the fact that they are meeting is a good sign.”
Renewed fighting between Thai and Cambodian troops broke out on April 22 in the Thai border province of Surin, forcing tens of thousands of Thai villagers to flee deeper into the Thai territory.
Mr Abhisit is scheduled to hold bilateral talks with Indonesian and Laos leaders separately this afternoon.
ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. (MCOT online news)