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UN chief urges end to border spat

VISITING United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said yesterday that he had urged Cambodia and Thailand to resolve their border dispute as soon as possible through peaceful means.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Ban said he had stressed the urgency of the matter with Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thailand’s Abhisit Vejjajiva during his current Asian tour.

“We discussed these matters extensively, and I have urged them that this issue should be resolved harmoniously and peacefully through dialogue between the two leaders,” he said.

Ban said he was “encouraged” by recent meetings between the two premiers, and said that plans for a meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Hanoi marked a positive development. The summit kicked off yesterday and runs until tomorrow.

“There is no reason why they cannot resolve this, because Cambodia and Thailand, as neighbouring countries, have been maintaining, traditionally, [a] very friendly [relationship],” Ban said.

“It is to the interests of those two peoples as well as to the interests of peace and harmony in this region.”

I have urged them that this issue should be resolved harmoniously and peacefully.

Ban arrived in Cambodia on Tuesday as part of a trip that will also take him to Thailand, Vietnam and China. He departed for Vietnam yesterday.
Hun Sen and Abhisit met on the sidelines of recent meetings in New York and Brussels and discussed cooperation to stave off confrontation.

The two countries have faced off along the border since the disputed Preah Vihear temple was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in July 2008.

In August, Hun Sen wrote letters to the UN Security Council accusing Abhisit of violating the UN Charter, after he was quoted as saying Thailand was willing to dissolve a border-demarcation pact and use “both democratic and military means” to safeguard its sovereignty. Abhisit later claimed he had been misquoted.

Also yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen led a Cambodian delegation to Hanoi to attend the ASEAN Summit.

Sri Thamrong, a personal adviser to Hun Sen, told reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport that the leaders of ASEAN would focus on the long-term integration of the 10-member bloc.

“ASEAN has made efforts to push for deeper cooperation with its partners to move towards ASEAN’s goal of successfully building an ASEAN community by 2015,” he said.

In addition, he said ASEAN member states would exchange points of view on regional issues such as climate change, disaster management, health and security.

The summit is also likely to be overshadowed by controversial elections in military-ruled Myanmar, scheduled for November 7.

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