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December 22, 2008

Thailand-Cambodia Border Dispute:
Indonesia sees a role to help resolve conflict

As the biggest Asean member country, Indonesia should be taking the lead in efforts to resolve the escalating Thai-Cambodian border dispute, an Indonesian legislator was quoted as telling the state news agency Antara Friday.

"Both Thailand and Cambodia are part of Asean and therefore we should not let other parties intervene in their conflict. I hope Indonesia will play an active and tangible role in efforts to overcome the problem," said Yusron Ihza Mahendra, vice chairman of the House of Representatives (DPR)'s Commission I.

Speaking to reporters one day after returning in Jakarta from a three-day visit in Cambodia, the Crescent Star Party (PBB) politician said the situation at the Thai-Cambodian border was tense and had a tendency to escalate.

"I was in Cambodia for three days and I saw that the border conflict between Thailand and Cambodia has a tendency to escalate if there is no intervention from a neutral party," he said.

Therefore, he expressed hope that the Indonesian government through its diplomatic instruments would immediately play an active and tangible role to resolve the conflict.

"Indonesia should be in the forefront . Do not let other countries outside ASEAN intervene," Mahendra said, adding that Jakarta needed to play a role in bringing Thailand and Cambodia to a negotiation table.

He said if the government deemed it necessary to send a peace-keeping force to the Thai-Cambodian border, the House Commission I would support it.

Meanwhile, AFP reported that Thailand and Cambodia on Thursday agreed to joint patrols of disputed border areas after deadly clashes, but made little progress toward resolving their long-standing territorial spat.

AFP said senior military officials from both sides met in Thailand the day after gunfights broke out on disputed land near Preah Vihear temple, a UN heritage site on Cambodian territory and the focus of months of tensions.

"We will introduce the joint patrols to avoid this kind of incident happening again," said Lieutenant General Wiboonsak Neeparn, Thailand's northeastern army commander, after the five-hour meeting.

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