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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Cambodia: Thailand's rejection of ceasefire shows 'fragility of war' at border

Pro-government newspaper Reaksmei Kampuchea in Cambodian carries in its 19 February 2011 issue a report by Meng Chhai on pages A1 and A5 headlined "Thailand Increasingly Reinforces Troops at the Border Adjoining Cambodia Ahead of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting"

The Reaksmei Kampuchea says:

"Warmongering Thai Prime Minister Aphisit Vechachiva on Thursday [ 17 February] immediately rejected Cambodia's proposal for a ceasefire agreement between the two countries saying that it is too early to talk about any measures.

"Samdech Cambodian Prime Minister on Thursday [ 17 February] proposed that Thailand and Cambodia signed an agreement on a permanent ceasefire witnessed by other ASEAN members or the ASEAN chairman when ASEAN foreign ministers meet in Jakarta on Tuesday next week [ 22 February].

"Aphisit, however, said that 'We did not open fire first. It is too early to talk about signing any agreement. Thailand has said it from the beginning that we did not open fire first. We did what other countries will do...[ellipsis as published] That is, when were are under attack, or we were fired on first, we will fire back. We have the right to protect our sovereignty.'"

The Reaksmei Kampuchea report further says:

"It should be specified that the Thai government's rejection on signing a ceasefire agreement with Cambodia coincided with Thai media, Bangkok Post, reporting that the royal Thai armed forces have decided to implement the national defence plan named Chakrabongse Bhuvanart [Romanized name as published] with the participation of three type of armed forces to patrol the Thai-Cambodian border from the provinces of Sisaket, Chanthaburi, to Trat.

"A military source said that Supreme Commander Songkiti Chakapatara has approved the plan as the national defence strategy for the eastern region.

"The source said that around 15,000 Thai troops have been dispatched close to the so-called 4.6-square-kilometre area around Prasat Preah Vihear temple. Under the Chakrabongse Bhuvanart plan, the Thai eastern forces will conduct activities along the border in the provinces of Sisaket and Prachinburi. The force called Sunnari will be responsible for the northeast region and also for the Phra Viharn 54 Operation Plan [preceding Romanized name as published].

"The navy's marines of the border defence force in Chanthaburi and Trat, and other armed forces have been put on standby. In total, approximately 23,000 marines and air force troops will be deployed.

"Continuing, the source said that the air force will send fighter aircraft to patrol the border to support land operations. The air force could in less than 10 minutes send F16 aircraft from Nakhon Ratchasima province to the border area near Prasat Preah Vihear temple in Sisaket province.

"General Ithaphorn Soup-havong, air force commander, said that even though the air force is ready to send F16 aircraft, he believed that this will not be necessary because the confrontation between the two countries remains only at 'small clash level.' He believed that the two sides could still resolve the problem through non-violent negotiation.

"Concerning the continued clash in the area of conflict, Defence Minister Pravit Vongsuvon said that Thai forces will return fire when Cambodian troops open fire on them to defend the country's sovereignty."

Continuing the Reaksmei Kampuchea says:

"On 18 February afternoon, Koy Kuong, spokesman of the Cambodian Foreign Ministry, said that 'Thai Prime Minister Aphisit's rejection of Samdech Decho Hun Sen's proposal in which the samdech wanted a ceasefire agreement signed at the coming 22 February meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers, clearly shows the Thai side's warmongering nature and nurtured idea to commit aggression against Cambodian territory. Thailand also violate d the memorandum of the UN Security Council who wanted a permanent ceasefire at the Cambodian-Thai border. Moreover, Thailand did not want ASEAN observers or ceasefire controllers in the border area. This also showed that Thailand wanted to hide its dirty tricks to commit aggression against Cambodia and to accuse Cambodia of opening fire first. So, the rejection by Thailand shows the international community that if it (Thailand) were good, why is it afraid of a third party to be witness?

"Koy Kuong further said that the Thai prime minister's objection was unreasonable and not proper at all. The rejection confirmed the tricky nature of the Thai leadership, especially Thai Prime Minister Aphisit."

Concluding, the Reaksmei Kampuchea report in Cambodian on 19 February says:

"Even though Bangkok has rejected the proposal beforehand, Koy Kuong said that Cambodia will continue to propose the signing of a ceasefire agreement, because this is in conformity with the spirit of the memorandum of the UN Security Council who wants a permanent ceasefire. And it is also in conformity with what Indonesian foreign minister wanted in his name as ASEAN chairman. Koy Kuong further said that Cambodia hopes that ASEAN foreign ministers would support Cambodia's proposal."

"Koy Kuong added that Thailand objected to the ceasefire agreement and has also sent more troops to the Cambodian border. In this era, Thailand should not think that because it has more troops and stronger than Cambodia. The world currently values only Cambodia's correctness and legitimacy in the border conflict with Thailand.

"Political analysts said that Thailand beefing up troops could be a strategy to put psychological pressure on Cambodia ahead of negotiation. Thailand's intention could be to increase its weight at the talks. Such acts, however, could have bad consequence on Thailand and shows the fragility of war along the Cambodian-Thai border."

Source: Reaksmei Kampuchea, Phnom Penh, in Cambodian 19 Feb 11

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