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Cambodia says peace talks needed to end Thai unrest

Cambodia says peace talks needed to end Thai unrest

THE Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement Monday urging protesters and government forces in Thailand to hold talks and negotiate a peaceful solution to the political crisis that has left dozens dead in pitched battles on the streets of Bangkok since last week.

“Cambodia, as a neighbouring country and a member of ASEAN, is very concerned by the increasing, severe violence in Thailand. The current awful situation in Thailand has gravely affected not only Thailand’s image, but also that of ASEAN as well,” the statement read.

At least 35 people have been killed and nearly 250 wounded since Friday in battles between soldiers and antigovernment protesters, after Thai troops moved to seal off the main protest sites in central Bangkok. The crisis has now left 66 people dead and around 1,700 wounded since the latest round of clashes broke out last month.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong called last month for current ASEAN leader Vietnam to convene a summit or issue a joint declaration on the violence in Bangkok, although Vietnam declined, citing concerns about interfering in Thai affairs. As casualties in Bangkok mounted over the weekend, however, both Vietnam and fellow ASEAN member Singapore publicly voiced their concerns.

Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said Monday that Thai officials were working to “return normalcy as soon as possible”.

“We appreciate the concern expressed by various countries, and would like to assure these countries and other members of the international community that the Thai government will do its utmost to resolve the situation,” he said. “We will do our utmost to ensure the continued safety and security of foreigners residing and travelling in Thailand.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JAMES O’TOOLE AND AFP

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