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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        12  May 2011

Border observer deal now doubtful

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Just days after announcing an agreement that would send teams of Indonesia military observers to the disputed border battle zone, Cambodia and Thailand are once again exchanging charges over the disputed border, making the observer arrangement doubtful. On Monday, Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong met with Thai FM Kasit Piromya following a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Jakarta in an attempt to finalise the terms of the observers’ deployment. The men were joined by Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, who has attempted to mediate the dispute since clashes first broke out along the border in February near Preah Vihear temple.

Following the meeting, Natalegawa told reporters that the agreement had “exceeded my expectations”, praising the two countries for overcoming their differences. Yesterday, however, it appeared that they were back where they started.

Speaking to journalists in Bangkok, Kasit reportedly said Cambodia must withdraw its troops from territory adjacent to Preah Vihear that is claimed by both sides before the observers can be deployed.

Kasit’s comments echoed calls made by the Thai military in recent weeks as the two sides continued to bicker over the observer arrangement. At the Asean summit in Jakarta on Saturday, Prime Minister Hun Sen blasted this demand, saying it was “irrational and unacceptable” for a foreign country to demand the withdrawal of troops from what Cambodia sees as its territory. Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong reiterated this stance yesterday, accusing Thailand of sabotaging this week’s agreement.

“We cannot do that. We will not allow any foreign country to oust Cambodian people from Cambodian territory,” he said. “This shows the unfaithfulness of the current Thai leadership, which is why we cannot trust them.”

The International Court of Justice in The Hague is set to convene a hearing later this month in a case brought by Cambodia requesting that the court reinterpret its 1962 judgment that awarded Preah Vihear to Cambodia. Cambodia has asked the court to also make a determination on the sovereignty of the territory surrounding the temple, and in the interim, to order Thai troops to withdraw from the area.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   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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