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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        23  February 2011

Asean brokers border conflict deal

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Cambodia and Thailand have agreed to accept Indonesian military and civilian observers to monitor disputed border areas that were the scene of bloody clashes earlier this month, following a meeting of Asean foreign ministers in Jakarta on Tuesday.

Speaking after the meeting, Indonesian Foreign Minister and current Asean chairman Marty Natalegawa described the solution as a “unique arrangement”.

Though full details were not immediately available, Natalegawa, speaking for Asean, said each team would consist of 20 military and civilian members charged with observing a ceasefire agreed by both sides.

“It’s quite a unique regiment in the sense that Indonesian observers will be on both sides of the boundaries, on the Thai side as well as on the Cambodian side,” Natalegawa told reporters. He added that the observers would report to both Asean and the United Nations Security Council.

According to a statement released by the Asean Secretariat following the meeting, Natalegawa said Indonesia agreed “to assist and support the parties in respecting their commitment to avoid further armed clashes between them, by observing and reporting accurately, as well as impartially on complaints of violations and submitting its findings to each party through Indonesia”.

The dispatch of the Indonesian observers will be based on the experience of similar missions from Asean personnel to East Timor in 1999 and Aceh in 2003-05, as well as an Indonesian mission to the southern Philippines, the statement said, adding that Natalegawa will “promptly propose a model for the two countries’ consideration”.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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