Abhisit will seek talks with Hun Sen, doubts his intentions; Cambodian PM vows to raise issue at Asean summit, says does not want clashes to spread
Efforts to bring peace to the borders of Thailand and Cambodia have got nowhere as leaders of the two countries have yet to offer ways to settle the armed conflict, despite saying they are ready to talk.
Both nations claim they did not trigger the border skirmishes and have called on each other to stop shooting.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told the House of Representatives yesterday that he would seek an opportunity to talk with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on the sidelines of the Asean Summit in early May in Jakarta.
Hun Sen's move
However, Hun Sen said he would raise the border conflict at the Asean meeting, rather than talking bilaterally with his Thai counterpart.
"Cambodia will raise the issue at the Asean summit next month, so Abhisit and I can negotiate during the Asean Summit," Hun Sen was quoted as saying by Xinhua News Agency.
"Even though there are no Cambodia-Thailand border issues on the agenda for the Asean Summit, I will raise them with Asean leaders," he said.
Thailand and Cambodia have been in military conflict over the boundary in two major areas - Preah Vihear in Si Sa Ket, and Ta Muen Thom in Surin.
Hun Sen said Cambodia would talk to Thailand over the conflict at Ta Muen and Ta Kwai bilaterally, but needed a third party for the Preah Vihear dispute.
The Preah Vihear Temple issue has been raised with the United Nations Security Council and Asean, he said. "We have to respect the role of Asean. All the negotiations about the disputed border areas near Preah Vihear Temple must be with the participation of a third party."
Abhisit said he doubted the Cambodian leader's motives, saying: "If you are ready to talk, why do you keep firing guns?"
Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya told the House yesterday his government would do all it could to push Cambodia into bilateral talks to settle the dispute. He urged the legislative body to help convince Cambodian leaders to restore peace along the border.
Kasit met US Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney to brief her on the conflict with Cambodia. He urged Washington to help persuade leaders in Phnom Penh to sit together with Thailand for peace talks. The minister also met envoys from Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand and Canada for the same purpose.
Kasit said Thailand was not an aggressor and wanted to live peacefully with Cambodia.
Hun Sen said Cambodia does not want conflict with its bigger neighbour Thailand and called for a ceasefire, saying: "Cambodia doesn't want the conflict to spread further. Cambodia is small, poor and has small armed forces, but don't forget that ants can hurt an elephant."
Peace effort fails
An attempt to open peace talks between senior officials of the two neighbours failed yesterday as Defence Minister Prawit Wongsu-wan changed his mind at the last minute about meeting his Cambo-dian counterpart Tea Banh. He was reported to be disappointed over reports in the Cambodian media about the conflict, according to a military source. He was told that the Cambodians claimed he was seeking peace talks because the Thai military had admitted it was defeated and had lost the battle, the source said.
Prawit flew to China yesterday as originally scheduled and will seek a meeting with Tea Banh after the trip later this week, according to his secretary Noppadon Intapanya.
Fighting between Thai and Cambodian troops at Ta Muen and Ta Kwai temples continued for the sixth day yesterday with exchange of small arms fire in the border area.
The fighting erupted last Friday after Cambodian troops attempted to take a position in the Phnom Dangrek mountain near the Hindu temple. The fighting has left six dead, including a civilian on the Thai side, and injured more than 50 so far.