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Hun Sen lauds Indonesia talks

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Prime Minister Hun Sen gestures while speaking at the Interior Ministry in Phnom Penh yesterday.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has praised the role of Indonesia in mediating between Thailand and Cambodia following deadly clashes along their shared border earlier this month that left at least 10 people dead and displaced thousands of civilians.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong joined Thailand’s Kasit Piromya and the rest of the foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Jakarta this week for a meeting to address the dispute.

While not adopting a formal ceasefire, Thailand and Cambodia agreed to allow a delegation of unarmed Indonesian observers to join troops on both sides of the border near Preah Vihear temple to monitor the situation.

In an address yesterday at the Ministry of Interior, Hun Sen praised the result of the meeting and said he hoped Indonesia would continue to mediate in the dispute even after it gives up its position as ASEAN chair at the end of this year, at which time Cambodia will take up the post.

“Indonesia now plays a significant role in the region, and therefore Indonesia should continue this role,” Hun Sen said. “Our idea is to request that Indonesia continue in its role on behalf of ASEAN.”

Cambodia and Thailand have agreed to meet for bilateral talks on the border dispute in a third country, most likely Indonesia. Hun Sen said yesterday that these talks would begin between the defence ministers of the two countries rather than with their Joint Border Committee. Thailand and Cambodia have been demarcating their shared border under the auspices of the JBC, though talks have been stalled since 2009, pending the repeatedly delayed approval of the latest negotiations in the Thai parliament.

The Bangkok Post reported yesterday that Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva said Thailand was prepared to launch a “full retaliatory attack” if Cambodian troops entered its territory, comments that prompted Hun Sen to compare him to a “drummer preparing for war”. Hun Sen said Kingdom forces had been instructed only to protect Cambodia’s sovereignty and not to cross into Thailand.

In an unrelated digression yesterday, the Premier also warned that the government would take action against any motorists caught drag racing in their cars.

“Those car racers will have to go to court and sleep in prison,” he said. “They have money to buy cars, so they should not hesitate to pay their fines.”

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