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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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Activists urge Thai govt not to sign permanent ceasefire agreement with Cambodia

BANGKOK, Feb 19 -- Activists of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) who have been holding a rally in the Thai capital for nearly a month demanding the ouster of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's government for mishandling the Thai-Cambodian border conflict demanded on Saturday that the government must not sign a permanent ceasefire agreement with Cambodia, saying that conditions proposed earlier by his counterpart Hun Sen were “insincere,” said PAD spokesman Panthep Puapongpan.

Mr Hun Sen on Thursday said in Phnom Penh that Cambodia would urge Thailand to agree to a peace deal during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers meeting, to be held in Jakarta next Tuesday, and a ceasefire agreement be signed between foreign ministers of the two neighbouring countries under the witness of ASEAN or the ASEAN chair.

The upcoming ASEAN foreign ministers meeting will be held with an aim to finding ways to end the border conflict and clashes at the disputed border between soldiers of the two countries.

But Mr Panthep said conditions proposed by Cambodia are “insincere because that country has accused Thailand on several occasions” and if an agreement has to be signed then Cambodian villagers and soldiers must move out of the disputed area or before memos by Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) are formally signed.

PAD’s long standing position is to oppose Thai parliamentary endorsement of the three memos by the JBC, claiming they may result in loss of Thai territory adjacent to the Hindu Preah Vihear temple. They have also demanded the revocation of MoUs signed between Thailand and Cambodia in 2000.

The Yellow Shirt movement believes that the JBC documents will put Thailand at a disadvantage as the documents originating from the MoUs related to the survey and boundary demarcation recognising a French map, with a scale of 1:200,000 sq km, that puts Thailand at risk of losing territory.

Another PAD core leader Prapan Koonmee said he had received a letter issued by the Royal Thai Police Bureau asking him and other core leaders to report themselves to Bangkok Metropolitan Police headquarters next Tuesday on charges of violating the Internal Security Act since PAD members have been holding the rally in Bangkok since January 25.

Challenging the police order, Mr Panthep said the enforcement of the Act is tantamount to violating the constitution and the right to freedom of assembly. MCOT online news)
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Thai, Cambodian troops agree on ceasefire: report

BANGKOK, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- Thailand's Army Region 2 commander Lt-Gen Thawatchai Samutsakorn unveiled on Saturday evening that military commanders of both Thailand and Cambodian have finally reached agreement on ceasefire, a local website INN reported.

Army-chief-of staff Gen Daopong Rattanasuwon held ceasefire talks with Cambodian Deputy Supreme Commander Gen Jia Dara at Chong Sangam in border Surin province on Saturday.

Thailand's Army Region 2 commander and Cambodia's Army Region 4 commander Lt-Gen Jia Mon were among those top brasses attending the meeting.

Following the latest cross-border fighting which erupted firstly on Feb. 4 and carried on until Feb. 7, there were still a few rounds of small skirmishes. Military commanders of both countries once agreed on truce on Feb. 5 but that was not fully implemented.

Soon after both countries' foreign ministers along with Indonesian foreign minister, who is ASEAN's current chairman, attended the UN Security Council meeting in New York on Feb. 14 to discuss the conflicts, a fresh round of clash occurred. However, no further clash has been reported since Feb. 16.

In the deadliest cross-border fighting on Feb. 4-7, about two Thai soldiers and eight Cambodian soldiers were killed and over 20, 000 residents along the border were forced to flee as the two countries exchanged both small arms firings and heavy shelling.
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Thai, Cambodian businessmen agree on widening trade, investment

BANGKOK, Feb 19 -- As an ongoing four-day Thailand Trade Fair being held in Phnom Penh now is running successfully, businessmen of the two countries have also agreed on enlarging trade and investment between them believing that clashes at the disputed border between soldiers of their countries should be solved by their respective governments, said a leading Thai businessman Saturday.

Niyom Waiyaratchapanich, deputy chairman of Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) and also committee chairman of TCC’s international trade promotion, said leading businessmen of the two countries agreed during Thursday’s business summit, held for the first time by the two nations, that they would propose to their governments in issuing ‘Thai-Cambodian Business Card’ to facilitate businessmen in crossing the border of each country to do business.

Under the scheme, a special passage at the border will be arranged for the cardholders to pass through, saving time off immigration procedures, Mr Niyom said.

They also agreed that an SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) clinic should be set up in both countries to encourage new Thai investors to invest in infrastructure and tourism ventures in Cambodia, proposing both Bangkok and Phnom Penh governments extend contract farming while Thai farming experts would provide know-how to Cambodian farmers, enlarging logistics networks, increasing trucks carrying goods to 150 daily from 40 now and launching bus facilities between the two countries.

“Businessmen of the two countries didn’t raise the border problem for discussion during the meeting as they believed that the issue could be settled by their governments,” Mr Niyom said.

With the two-way trade in 2010 valued about Bt81 billion, up 20 per cent from the previous year, the Thai government-run National Intelligence Agency said in its report last month that trade value between the two countries in 2011 could be almost equal last year’s if no border checkpoints are closed due to clashes at the border.

Thailand is now ranked 14th in terms of largest foreign investment in Cambodia, as businessmen in this country have already invested in more than 80 projects, with total investments of over US$363 million.

Thai Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot, who also attended the trade fair which ends Sunday, opined that the summit proposed that a similar trade fair be organised in each country every two months due to the success of the ongoing fair in Phnom Penh. (MCOT online news)
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Vietnam's public security delegation visits Cambodia

A high-ranking delegation from the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security (MPS), led by Minister Gen. Le Hong Anh is on a two-day visit to Cambodia from February 18-19.


The delegation was received by Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of Cambodia.

After informing each other of the socio-economic situation of each country, the two ministers signed a cooperation plan for 2011 which aims to strengthen effectiveness in combating crime and ensuring social order and security as well as support each other in training staff and using technical equipment.

Addressing the signing ceremony, Minister Le Hong Anh said that cooperative ties between Vietnam’s MPS and Cambodia’s relevant agencies have made important progress which contributed greatly to the political and socio-economic development of both countries.

He also said he hoped the cooperation plan for 2011 would be effectively carried out, contributing to the national construction and development process of each country.

Speaking highly of the outcomes in cooperation between the two public security forces, Deputy PM Sar Kheng also expressed his belief in the successes of bilateral cooperation in the future.

In the afternoon the same day, the Vietnamese delegation paid a courtesy visit to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.
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