Thursday, 5 May 2011

Prayuth insists troops must vacate border

via CAAI

30 monitors to deploy after terms approved

Published: 4/05/2011 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News

The Army chief yesterday reiterated the precondition set out by the army and government that Cambodia withdraw all of its troops from the 4.6 sq km disputed border area before Indonesian observers can be deployed.

"If they [Cambodia] do not agree, the battle will have to continue. We can keep fighting each other or we can end the battle with dialogue," army commander in chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha said.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya earlier met with Indonesia's foreign minister Marty Natalegawa, who is the current chairman of Asean, to discuss the terms of reference (ToR) for the deployment of 30 Indonesian observers along the Thai-Cambodian border near Preah Vihear temple.

The Foreign Ministry has proposed the ToR to the Cabinet, which it should consider carefully, Gen Prayuth said.

"If those observers were to be deployed, there must be no soldiers on the Preah Vihear mountain. It does not matter who comes in, the government will be the one to approve their presence. But if they want to come, there must be a ToR governing their presence," Gen Prayuth said.

The army chief added that the Foreign Ministry would lobby the Cabinet for approval of the ToR. He has personally gone through essential details of the proposal and insisted it states that there must be no troops present at Preah Vihear Temple in addition to nearby communities and Buddhist temples.

On Monday night, border skirmishes resumed between Thai and Cambodian troops near the Ta Kwai Temple in Tambon Bak Dai in Surin province. One Thai soldier was killed and three others injured.

The latest clash featured fighting with personal rifles, grenade launchers and hand grenades, according to Lt Gen Tawatchai Samutsakhon, commander of the 2nd Army.

About 500 residents of Tambon Bak Dai who had recently returned home again had to flee from their communities to Nikhom Prasat evacuation centre on Monday night.

Eight Thai soldiers have been killed and 120 others injured during the latest and deadliest round of Thai-Cambodian fighting, which started 11 days ago.

Gen Prayuth insisted that Thai troops had never fired first.

Lt Gen Tawatchai said small skirmishes had occurred on a daily basis since a ceasefire was declared last Thursday. The skirmish on Monday night broke out because Cambodian military leaders could not control some of their soldiers. The 2nd Army had tried to prevent further clashes by sending commanding officers to the frontline, so that they could talk to Cambodian military commanders and discuss plans to prevent further skirmishes between both sides.

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