July 25, 2008
Thai, Cambodian ministers to meet Monday in Siem Reap
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen agreed to hold talks with Thailand at the foreign ministerial level next Monday in his country's northwestern province of Siem Reap, Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej announced on Thursday, reported Thai news agency TNA.
Speaking to journalists in Bangkok, Samak said he had talked with Hun Sen by telephone and came to an agreement that Cambodia would relinquish its request to the UN Security Council to consider the tense military standoff between the two neighbouring countries over a disputed area near the ancient temple.
The request for the emergency meeting was made by Cambodia after it claimed that Thailand had deployed large numbers of troops along Thai-Cambodian border.
The two countries are locked in a military standoff on the border between Thailand's Kantharalak district in Si Sa Ket province and Cambodia's Preah Vihear province where the 11th century Khmer Hindu temple called Preah Vihear stands.
Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Kanharith confirmed Samak's comments, saying Phnom Penh had agreed to "suspend the complaint to the UN Security Council (for the time being)."
It is still unknown which minister would represent Thailand at next Monday's meeting because foreign minister Noppadon Pattama resigned from his post July 14 and his successor has not yet been appointed.
Earlier, George Yeo, Singaporean Foreign Minister, said the border dispute should not have been referred to the United Nations Security Council.
"We should not let a small issue - that was a non-issue in the past - become a big issue."
Yeo said that, with Asean members Vietnam and Indonesia on the 15-member Security Council, he thought the matter would be sent back to Asean to be pursued bilaterally, as Thailand would prefer.
"The matter should come back to Asean," Yeo said. "Both sides should promote tourism and it should enhance Southeast Asia as a whole, not become a source of conflict."
Talks earlier in the Thai border district of Aranyaprathet between Thai Supreme Commander Gen. Boonsang Niempradit and Cambodian Defence Minister Gen Tea Banh took place on Monday this week over the 4.6-square-kilometre disputed area near the ancient temple saw no headway as both sides refused to back down from claiming sovereignty over the area. What both sides agreed was not to reinforce their forces in the area.
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