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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

ASEAN chief: Thai-Cambodian issue unlikely to be aired at ASEAN Summit

BANGKOK, Oct 14 (TNA) - ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan on Wednesday said he did not believe that Cambodia will raise the border conflict with its neighbour Thailand at the upcoming summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the end of this month.

The ASEAN chief commented after French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) earlier quoted Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong as saying Prime Minister Hun Sen will raise the Thai border spat at an upcoming regional summit despite opposition from Thailand, which is hosting the meeting.

Mr Hor Namhong however said "Because there is no answer from Thailand to my official proposal, Cambodia still considers that Prime Minister Hun Sen can raise the dispute in the ASEAN summit."

He said that Cambodia is willing to raise the issue in other international bodies, including the United Nations Security Council, and accused Thailand of delaying the resolution of the dispute.

Thailand will host the 15th ASEAN Summit and its related summits in Phetchaburi's Cha-am district and Prachuab Khiri Khan's Hua Hin district October 23 to 25.

The ASEAN chief said that if any country member feels that the Thai-Cambodian border dispute affects ASEAN's image, the foreign ministers from other eight country members (except from Thailand and Cambodia) can raise the issue for discussion at the regional pact meeting.

"I know the Cambodian stance only from news report. I think that the border spat is the issue between the two countries which can be agreed at bilateral talks," said Mr Surin, "It should not be raised in the ASEAN Summit."

The ASEAN chief added that he is not worried that the summit will be overshadowed by the Thailand-Cambodia conflict, saying that ASEAN members are mature and willing to solve problems.

He said if anyone of either party raises this topic at the meeting, it will be a good opportunity to help find appropriate solutions to the conflict.

Tensions between the two neighbouring countries, renewed when Mr Hun Sen said he had ordered his troops to shoot any Thai stepping on Cambodian soil, after protesters of Thailand's yellow-shirted Peoples’ Alliance for Democracy (PAD) rallied in Si Sa Ket province last month opposing Cambodia's plan to build new structures in the contested 4.6 square kilometre zone surrounding Preah Vihear.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva shunned Mr Hun Sen's threat, saying it is his style to make international headlines and for his internal political benefit.

Cambodian Foreign minister said early this week that he wished to propose the dispute over the area around the ancient Preah Vihear temple be included in the agenda of the ASEAN summit and in other international meetings.

The Thai foreign affairs ministry however said the dispute should not be internationalised or raised at the regional pact meeting and Thailand will continue to seek a peaceful solution with Cambodia via a bilateral mechanism. (TNA)

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