Saturday, 7 May 2011

Thai PM insists Cambodian troops leave border before Indonesian observers arrive

via CAAI

BY: BNO News

BANGKOK, THAILAND (BNO NEWS) -- As Thai-Cambodia border clashes continue, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Thursday insisted Cambodian troops leave the 4.6-square-kilometer disputed border area before Indonesian observers arrive.

According to the Bangkok Post, Vejjajiva said the deployment of Indonesian observers has been cleared, but the presence of Cambodian troops and citizens is a breach of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by both countries in 2000.

Indonesia has remained open to mediating the conflict, as it chairs the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which is set to hold its 18th Summit this weekend, where Thai and Cambodian leaders are expected to meet.

While Thailand's 2nd Army spokesman Prawit Hookaew said border tensions had decreased during the past two days, Vejjajiva said the situation's development between the two countries would depend on the progress of talks between Thailand and Indonesia and between Cambodia and Indonesia.

On Wednesday, the Thai-Cambodian border reopened after local military leaders of both countries held another round of ceasefire talks. Thai 2nd Army commander Lt. Gen. Tawatchai Samutsakhon and Lt. Gen. Chea Mon, the 4th Army Region chief of Cambodia, reportedly agreed during talks that if there was a clash then the unit commanders of the two sides must immediately contact each other to stop it and prevent it from recurring.

Both checkpoints had been closed for 13 days, halting cross-border trade and leaving Thai and Cambodian traders without an income.

Since April 22, fighting has resulted in the death of at least 17 people, including one Thai civilian. In addition, reports indicate that almost 100,000 civilians have been forced to evacuate their villages.

Last week, both military leaders also agreed verbally to a ceasefire, but less than one day after the agreement, a Thai soldier was killed as clashes erupted shortly after.

Both Cambodia and Thailand claim the 4.6 square kilometer area near the ancient Preah Vihear temple on their shared border, which has never been formally established. Cambodia requested Indonesian observers to mediate in the conflict but Thailand denied.

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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