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PM urges Thai border talks

PM urges Thai border talks

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Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at the Institute of National Education in Phnom Penh Yesterday.

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday warned that Thailand needed to respect the role of Indonesia in helping to resolve an ongoing border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand, after the Thai parliament on Friday delayed approval of the latest round of border talks between the two countries.

Speaking to about 2,000 students at a graduation ceremony at the Institute of National Education, Hun Sen said that Thailand had been recalcitrant toward the instruction of the United Nations Security Council which last month appointed Indonesia to intervene in the border dispute near Preah Vihear temple.

“Thailand has to take responsibility in front of the [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] and the UNSC,” said Hun Sen.

“[The] Cambodian Government has had an absolute determination for preparing to go to [Indonesia] and it is a matter of Thailand if it will go or not.”

Indonesia, the current chair of ASEAN, called for a meeting of the Thai-Cambodia General Border Committee – which deals with defence issues, and the bilateral Joint Border Committee in Bogor Indonesia on March 24-25 – but later postponed the meeting until April 7-8.

Following clashes near the Preah Vihear temple in February that left at least 10 people dead and dozens injured, Thailand and Cambodia also agreed to accept a team of Indonesian observers to the disputed border area adjacent to the temple.

Thai military officials including army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha have since expressed opposition to these meetings, and denied acceptance of military observers from Indonesia.

“[The Thai] foreign minister said they should go. [The Thai] prime minister also said they should go but [the Thai] army chief had said they shouldn’t. However, it is up to Thailand,” said Hun Sen at the ceremony.
“They shouldn’t be afraid of a third party that is coming to monitor.”

Hun Sen added that the government had already prepared a safety bunker, five vehicles, radio communications and hotel accommodation in Phnom Penh for Indonesian military observers.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday that Cambodia has not yet received an official letter of confirmation from Thailand.

“[Thailand] has remained unclear,” said Koy Kuong.

Thani Thongphakdi, spokesman for the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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