Thailand, Cambodia to talk Monday on border dispute, not to bother UN

July 25, 2008 at 1:44 am Leave a comment

BANGKOK, July 24 (Xinhua) — Thailand and its neighbor Cambodia have agreed to hold a ministerial meeting on next Monday over the disputed border areas adjacent to the Preah Vihear temple, and Cambodia would withdraw its petition filed earlier with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to ask for mediation, Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said on Thursday.

    Samak and his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen had a telephone conversation Thursday afternoon, in which the Cambodian Prime Minister told Samak that Cambodia would withdraw its request for the UNSC to convene an urgent meeting to discuss the Thai-Cambodian dispute.

Thai soldiers greet Cambodian soldiers near the Cekakiri Svarak pagoda of the Preah Vihear temple, about 245 km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, July 24, 2008. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

    Samak said both sides had agreed that the Foreign Ministers of both countries would meet in Siem Reap, Cambodia, on Monday (July 28).

    At a press briefing Thursday, Thai Foreign Ministry Spokesman Tharit Charungvat said that Samak and Army Chief Anupong Phaochinda have reaffirmed that there had been no “military-buildup” by the Thai armed forces in the area adjacent to the temple.

    The two also reiterated their instructions that all military personnel in the area exercise utmost restraint and avoid any violence in order to strictly follow what had been agreed during the General Border Committee (GBC) on Monday.

Cambodian soldiers stand guard at the Cekakiri Svarak pagoda near the Preah Vihear temple, 245km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, July 24, 2008.

Cambodian soldiers stand guard at the Cekakiri Svarak pagoda near the Preah Vihear temple, 245km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, July 24, 2008.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

    The meeting, conducted at the Thai border province of Sa Kaeo, produced no breakthrough except for a promise from both sides not to use force as a resolution.

    Thailand’s former Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama had resigned from the post early this month, following a court ruling that found it an unconstitutional act for Noppadon to sign the Thai-Cambodian Joint Communique in June, which endorsed Thailand’s support for Cambodia’s application with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to list the ancient Preah Vihear temple at the disputed border area as World Heritage Site.

    Samak said the government would have to pick a new Foreign Minister to fill the vacancy left by Noppadon before July 28 to represent Thailand in the border talks, but he refused to elaborate on who will be the candidate.

    The Samak cabinet is expected to experience a major reshuffle since it took office in early February since three ministers, including the Foreign Ministry head, have been forced out of their office after a series of legal battles and the government faced sharp criticism upon their performance on issues including the Preah Vihear temple.

    The UNESCO approved the application from Cambodia earlier this month despite Thailand’s withdrawal of support, 46 years after the International Court of Justice ruled to confirm Cambodia’s ownership of the 11th-century Hindu temple, which had been claimed by both Cambodia and Thailand.

    The two neighbors have also been engaged in a conflict about a 4.6-square kilometers border area claimed by both sides adjacent to the temple, an issue which was boiled again amidst Thailand’s recent domestic political turmoil, as opponents of the Samak government claimed its earlier endorsement of support for Cambodia’ s World Heritage bid would put Thailand at a disadvantage in border demarcation.

    The atmosphere at the border has intensified after both countries dispatched more troops to the disputed border area.

    Cambodia earlier filed a complaint with the Security Council to ask for UN to help resolve the border dispute.

    However, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the regional bloc of which Thailand and Cambodia are both members, and the United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have expressed the view to leave the matter be solved on a bilateral level, rather than to bother the UN, on the sideline of ASEAN ministerial meeting in Singapore.

    On Thursday, the UNSC convened a one-hour special session on the Thai-Cambodia border row upon Cambodia’s request to decide whether to interfere, but has postponed a decision, according to Thai Ambassador to the UN Don Pramudwinai.

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Entry filed under: Preah Vihear Issue. Tags: .

More on Preah Vihear by TVK Cambodia: UN help if border talks fail

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