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Thailand, Cambodia agree to Indonesian observers at border

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Thailand
and Cambodia agreed on Tuesday to allow civilian and unarmed military
observers from Indonesia to be posted along their border, where bloody
clashes over territory surrounding a centuries-old temple erupted anew
earlier this month, killing at least 11 people.
The Asean foreign ministers meeting in Jakarta agrees Thailand and
Cambodia should hold a meeting of the Thai-Cambodian Joint Border
Commission in a third country to negotiate a settlement to their border
conflict.
 The agreement reached at a meeting of the Association for Southeast
Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a breakthrough for the 10-member group long
derided as a talking shop.
Although full details were not immediately available, Indonesian
Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, speaking for the ASEAN, said each
team would consist of 20 military and civilian members charged with
observing a ceasefire agreed by both sides.
“It’s quite a unique regiment in the sense that Indonesian
observers will be on both sides of the boundaries, on the Thai side as
well as on the Cambodian side,” Natalegawa told reporters after meeting
ASEAN counterparts.
He said the observers would report to both ASEAN and the United Nations Security Council.
ASEAN, which prides itself on non-interference in members’ internal
affairs, has often appeared ineffective in resolving disputes among
members.
Fighting erupted between Thai and Cambodian forces early this month
on a disputed stretch of border at the 900-year old Preah Vihear temple.
At least three Thais and eight Cambodians were killed and dozens of
people wounded in the Feb. 4-7 exchanges. Sporadic clashes have broken
out since then.
An international court awarded the temple to Cambodia 49 years ago
but both countries lay claim to a 4.6 sq km (1.8 sq mile) patch of land
near it.
They have been locked in a standoff since July 2008, when Preah Vihear was granted UNESCO World Heritage status, which Thailand opposed on grounds that the land around the temple had never been demarcated.
Last week, the United Nations Security Council called for an end to
the standoff but both sides maintain a heavy military presence on the
border and tension is high.
The crisis is an important test for ASEAN, which is aiming to build
an EU-style community by 2015 but is riven by a host of territorial and
other disputes.
ASEAN includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Cambodia initially asked the U.N. Security Council to deploy
peacekeepers at the border and it has also asked for ASEAN observers.
Thailand has called for a bilateral solution but said it welcomed
ASEAN’s “support”.
The Preah Vihear temple, known as Khao Phra Viharn in Thailand,
sits on a wedge of land on an escarpment that forms a natural border
overlooking northern Cambodia.
The International Court of Justice in 1962 awarded the temple to
Cambodia, which uses a century-old French map as the basis for its
territorial claims, but the ruling failed to determine ownership of the
scrub next to it.
Source: Reuters
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Categories: Local News
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