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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs       9  May 2011

Thailand, Cambodia at loggerheads

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Thai and Cambodian leaders emerged from their meeting at the Asean summit on Sunday with both sides completely recalcitrant, dashing hopes by host Indonesia for an early solution.

The leaders stood firm in their positions during the one-hour meeting, which observers acknowledged was a failure.

Although both sides have agreed to allow their foreign ministers to discuss the issue further today, observers were skeptical they would make progress.

Kasit Piromya and Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Nam Hong are expected to meet at 3.30pm. Almost immediately after the leaders' meeting mediated by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on the sidelines of the 18th Asean summit, the Thai and Cambodian prime ministers called press conferences to accuse each other.

It was the first time Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had met since the border clashes resumed last month, killing 18 people.

Mr. Abhisit announced before his departure from Bangkok for the summit that he would not meet Hun Sen unless Cambodia withdrew its troops and residents from the area around Preah Vihear temple. Hun Sen said that Cambodia regarded Preah Vihear temple and its surrounds as Cambodian territory.

"We will not withdraw our troops from our own territory," he said. Cambodia, he added, had agreed with Indonesia's offer to send observers to the disputed border area.

Thailand, by contrast, had created additional conditions by demanding Cambodia withdraw troops and that the General Border Committee discuss the matter.

Hun Sen said Cambodia would follow UN Security Council guidelines in seeking Asean assistance to settle the dispute.

The widening clashes at Ta Muen and Ta Kwai temples near Surin would be settled through bilateral mechanisms, he said.

Mr Abhisit said Cambodia's approach was inconsistent.

The countries had reached a Memorandum of Understanding in 2000 as a blueprint for solving their differences over their border.

But instead of trying to solve the problem bilaterally, Cambodia had tried to internationalise the Preah Vihear dispute by taking a case to the Security Council and the International Court of Justice.

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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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