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FM to see security council

Cambodian soldiers patrol the Preah Vihear temple complex. Photo by: Reuters
Foreign ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said today that at a security
council meeting on Monday, Hor Namhong would present Cambodia’s
perspective on the conflict that broke out near Preah Vihear temple
last week, killing at least eight people and displacing thousands of
civilians.
“It is his main task … not just only to go there and sit and listen, but also to talk,” Koy Kuong said.
Chawanon
Intharakomansut, secretary for Thai foreign minister Kasit Piromya,
confirmed that Kasit would also attend the meeting to “explain the
situation” at the border.
Koy Kuong said he was unsure of whether the two would hold bilateral talks on the sidelines of the meeting.
Hor
Namhong and Prime Minister Hun Sen have written to the security council
within the past week to appeal for intervention in the border conflict
and assistance in stemming Thai “aggression”. Thailand, however, has
consistently rejected third party mediation in the dispute, favouring
talks under the auspices of the countries’ bilateral Joint Border
Committee.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, whose
country holds the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations,
visited Thai and Cambodian officials earlier this week to try and help
broker a solution to the conflict.
Koy Kuong said today, however, that Cambodia had yet to agree to ASEAN mediation or bilateral talks.
“Now, the issue is in the hands of the UN Security Council, so we’ll wait and see,” he said.
UN
secretary general Ban Ki-moon said in New York that he had spoken with
Hun Sen and Abhisit on Tuesday in relation to the conflict.
Ban
said he urged both sides “to end violence, to exercise restraint, and
find a lasting solution to the dispute through established mechanisms
and arrangements”, adding that the UN “remains at their disposal to
assist”.
Speaking today at Chaktomuk Theatre in Phnom Penh, Hun
Sen said he had personally pressed Ban for a stepped-up UN role in the
conflict, adding that the dispute had moved past the point of a
bilateral resolution.
“I appealed for an urgent meeting of the UN
Security Council, and secondly, I asked that the UN send peacekeepers
or military observers to Cambodia,” the premier said.
“We will withdraw if they come to protect the whole area of Preah Vihear temple.”
If
the security council “faces difficulty in the decision to condemn”
Thailand’s actions, it should cede the mediation role to ASEAN, Hun Sen
added.
Carl Thayer, a professor at the Australian Defence Force
Academy, said the Security Council had the potential to use its “moral
suasion” to ease tensions between Thailand and Cambodia, though he
cautioned that the body may provide little in the way of a concrete
solution.
“The problem is, does it rise to a level where this
conflict threatens international peace and security?” he said. “If the
security council cannot take any action other than calling for each
side to restrain itself, they may feel free to continue doing what
they’re doing.”
Tensions along the border near Preah Vihear have
been heightened since 2008, when the 11th-century temple was listed by
UNESCO as a World Heritage site for Cambodia over Thai objections. At
least seven troops had been killed in periodic skirmishes in the area
since 2008 prior to the most recent round of clashes, which began last
Friday.
Deputy Prime Minister Sok An appealed to UNESCO this
week, asking that the organisation investigate the “significant
damages” allegedly inflicted on the temple by Thai weaponry.
The
government initially claimed that a whole wing of the temple had
collapsed under bombardment, though these reports later proved
exaggerated. The temple’s staircases and exterior did appear to have
sustained surface damage from bullet and artillery fire, however, while
vegetation in the surrounding area was charred by explosions.
UNESCO
director general Irina Bokova said on Tuesday that her organisation
would send staff to investigate damage to the temple sustained during
the conflict, as it did following 2008 clashes in the area. ADDITIONAL
REPORTING BY VONG SOKHENG
Phnom Penh Post
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Categories: Local News
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