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PM appeals for observers

Prime Minister Hun Sen wants Indonesia to send observers to monitor the border.

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday urged Indonesia to send military observers to monitor a ceasefire along its shared border with Thailand, despite continued silence from Thailand about the agreed terms of reference for the observers.

Hun Sen told a graduating class of students from the Royal University of Law and Economics that Cambodia had created a committee led by Defence Minister Tea Banh to provide security, transportation and logistics for the observers once they arrive in Cambodia.

“I appeal to Indonesia to send observers directly to Cambodia because Indonesian military attachés have already inspected the area, and we have formed a committee to work with them. Even if Thailand rejects observers, please still come to Cambodia,” Hun Sen said while speaking at a graduation ceremony.

At an informal meeting of ASEAN Foreign Ministers on February 22 in Indonesia, which now chairs the 10-member bloc, Cambodia and Thailand agreed to receive observers from Indonesia to monitor a permanent ceasefire after heavy fighting along the border near the Preah Vihear temple complex in early February left at least 10 dead and dozens injured on both sides.

Thailand has yet to respond to the terms of reference offered by Indonesian Foreign Minister and current chair of ASEAN Marty Natalegawa.

Hun Sen’s appeal comes amid reports of eased tensions along the border, with a military commander in the area saying that soldiers from both countries met over the weekend to play sports as part of a strategy to reduce tensions.

“The situation is calm, but it is hard to know what will happen,” said Royal Cambodian Armed Forces General Srey Doek, commander of Military Division 3 near the border. “Both sides have agreed not to encroach on the other to avoid problems.”

Hun Sen said yesterday that dialogue and contact between the two sides was preferable to armed conflict.

“While discussions are difficult, we prefer them to more bloodshed.”

Last week, Hun Sen appealed to Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to confirm his country’s attendance at the convening of the General Border and Joint Border committees scheduled for March 24-25 in Bogor, Indonesia.

“Please, Your Excellency, respond urgently because these are issues for the UN Security Council and ASEAN,” Hun said last week.

Though Thailand has yet to confirm its attendance, Abhisit said early last week that he hoped the meetings in Indonesia would be a starting point for easing tensions along the border between the two countries, according to a report in the Bangkok Post.



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