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Border ceasefire brokered

Cambodian and Thai military commanders have reportedly agreed to a
ceasefire in the disputed areas close to Preah Vihear temple, after
clashes in the area earlier this month left at least 10 people dead and
dozens injured on both sides.
A Royal Cambodian Armed Forces soldier relaxes at Preah Vihear temple
during a lull in fighting with Thailand earlier this month. Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Touch Ra, deputy chief of
the border relations office in Oddar Meanchey province, said today that
military commanders from the two sides met for a two-hour closed-door
meeting on Saturday attended by Hun Manet, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s
eldest son.
“The result of the meeting has not been revealed as it was held secretly,” Touch Ra said.
But he added that since the meeting was conducted, the situation along the border has returned to normal.
“Most of the people have returned to their homes and are continuing with their businesses.
“The situation has calmed down and the people have no more fear of gunfire along the border.”
Chea Morn, commander of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Military Region 4, declined to comment today.
The
talks followed four days of clashes from February 4-7, in which troops
traded artillery, mortar and small arms fire in disputed areas close to
Preah Vihear temple, which sustained damage in the skirmishes.
The Bangkok Post
reported today that military commanders from both sides had inked a
ceasefire agreement following Saturday’s talks, though it is unclear
whether the agreement will hold.
A previous truce was called on February 5, but violence flared up again the next day.
The
paper quoted an army source as saying Second Army commander Thawatchai
Samutsakhorn was part of a Thai delegation led by Army chief-of-staff
Daopong Rattanasuwan. The Cambodian delegation was led by Hun Manet,
according to the report.
“All is well,” said Thawatchai
Samutsakhorn after the agreement was signed at a restaurant near the
Choam Sa-Ngam border crossing between Oddar Meanchey and Sisaket
provinces.
The apparent agreement has stoked nationalist
sentiment in Thailand, with Yellow Shirt activists from the People’s
Alliance for Democracy claiming it could disadvantage Thai claims to
disputed territories close to Preah Vihear.
At a press conference
in Bangkok, Yellow Shirt spokesman Panthep Puapongpan said the
conditions under the ceasefire deal had put Thailand in an underdog
situation and would lead to a permanent loss of Thai land to Cambodia,
the Bangkok Post reported.
Prime Minister Abhisit
Vejjajiva denied the claims in his weekly address today, saying the
agreement “will not lead to any loss of Thai soil as speculated”.
The
agreement comes ahead of a meeting of ASEAN’s foreign ministers in
Jakarta tomorrow, which is set to discuss the stand-off between
Cambodia and Thailand.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said last week that
at the meeting Cambodia will press Thailand to sign a permanent
ceasefire under ASEAN’s auspices, requesting that the bloc deploy
observers into disputed border areas.
Thailand has been
steadfastly opposed to a multilateral solution to the border conflict,
which has erupted into sporadic violence since July 2008, when UNESCO
listed Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site over Thai
objections.
Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said
Foreign Minister Hor Namhong will lead a delegation to Indonesia today
to attend the meeting.
Thai state media also reported on Saturday
that former UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura will next week
pay a visit to Bangkok and Phnom Penh to hear both sides’ views on the
recent conflict, though he will not visit disputed areas along the
border.
Phnom Penh Post
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Categories: Local News
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