Cambodia wants Security Council meeting

July 22, 2008 at 7:48 am Leave a comment

PREAH VIHEAR, Cambodia (AP) — Stepping up its diplomatic offensive, Cambodia has asked the U.N. Security Council and its Southeast Asian neighbors to help resolve a military standoff over disputed border territory around an ancient temple.

The government requested an emergency meeting of the council “to find a solution to the problem in accordance with international laws,” said a Foreign Ministry statement received Tuesday.

Cambodia is also seeking regional intervention after talks between the neighbors Monday failed to end the stalemate around the Preah Vihear temple.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong asked Singapore, the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, to form a regional “inter-ministerial group … to help find a peaceful solution to the current crisis and avoid military confrontation.”

There was no immediate reaction from the Thai government to the initiatives.

The dispute over 1.8 square miles of land near the temple escalated earlier this month when UNESCO approved Cambodia’s application to have the complex named a World Heritage Site.

More than 4,000 troops have been deployed around the temple and in the immediate vicinity since July 15.

The troops are to remain in place, but the two sides nevertheless reiterated their commitment to avoiding an armed conflict as Monday’s bilateral meeting ended in the Thai-Cambodian border town of Aranyaprathet.

“The most important thing is to avoid a confrontation so that there is no violence,” Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh told reporters, adding that “the temperature … hasn’t been reduced.”

Thai Supreme Commander Boonsrang Niempradit refused to describe the talks as a failure, while insisting troops from both countries would stay put, but would “not use any violence or weapons.”

The Cambodian Foreign Ministry statement said talks failed “because Thailand insisted on using a map drawn unilaterally, thus violating Cambodia’s territory.”

It said Cambodia was adhering to a map, drawn up in 1908, which was endorsed by the International Court of Justice when it awarded the disputed temple to Cambodia in a 1962 ruling.

Thailand’s “aggression” also violated the 1976 Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia drawn up by ASEAN, the statement said.

In a letter to Singapore’s Foreign Minister George Yeo late Monday, Cambodia’s Hor Namhong asked that the foreign ministers of Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and Laos be included in a group to resolve the crisis.

“Thai troops with artillery and tanks are building up along the border, constituting a very serious threat not only to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cambodia, but also to peace and stability in the region,” he said in the letter seen Tuesday.

The ASEAN foreign ministers are holding their annual meeting in Singapore this week.

Thailand sent troops to the border after anti-government demonstrators attacked Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej’s government for supporting Cambodia’s request to designate the temple a World Heritage Site. And Cambodia responded with its own deployment.

The Thai protesters claim the temple’s new status will undermine their country’s claim to the disputed patch of land.

“It is a deadlock at this point and that means the relationship between the two countries will go from bad to worse,” Surachart Bamrungsuk, a security analyst at Chulalongkorn University’s faculty of Political Science, said Monday about the failed talks.

Still, the atmosphere appeared relaxed Tuesday, despite the close proximity of the two forces at the site.

Opposing soldiers mingled casually. Some were lying in hammocks, while others sat on rocks swinging their legs with their weapons on their laps or on the ground near them.

“Nothing has changed. We have received orders to continue maintaining patience” after the talks failed, Cambodian Brig. Gen. Chea Keo said Tuesday.

Associated Press writers Ambika Ahuja and Sutin Wannnabovorn in Bangkok, Thailand, Ker Munthit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and writer Sumeth Panpetch along the Thai-Cambodian border contributed to this report.

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Entry filed under: Preah Vihear Issue. Tags: , .

Cambodia informs compatriots about Thai encroachment of its territory No foreign mediator needed in Cambodia talks: Thailand

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