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Asean Summit to discuss border clashes : Thai PM

Written By vibykhmer on Sunday, April 5, 2009 | 1:46 PM

April 6, 2009
The Nation

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday the problem of Thai and Cambodian military clashes in a disputed border area will be raised at this week's Asean Summit in Pattaya.

The two neighbouring countries agreed their commanders would strictly supervise their men to prevent another gunfight like last week when Thai and Cambodian soldiers were killed. They firmly agreed their troops must keep to their own territory.
Abhisit said in his weekly TV talkshow that the border friction around the Preah Vihear Temple had gone on for some years, but had become more worrisome since last July, after the ancient site was granted world heritage status by Unesco.

The latest incident last Friday saw troops tangling twice near the ancient temple. Two Thai and two Cambodian soldiers died in the exchange while nine Thai soldiers were wounded.

Abhisit expressed condolences to the families of the dead and wounded soldiers.

He said he had earlier discussed with his Cambodian counterpart Prime Minister Hun Sen about settling the border dispute through the Thai-Cambodian Joint Border Committee, which will meet in Phnom Penh today and tomorrow.

The session was planned before last week's escalation of tensions.

Both Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan have been in constant contact with Cambodian authorities to settle the "misunderstanding", Abhisit said, adding that he expects the situation has now eased.

Maj General Kanok Natrakawesana, commander of the Suranaree Task Force, said his urgent meeting with Cambodian Maj General Srey Doek at the Preah Vihear Temple in the morning was constructive.

Soldiers guarding the border would not be allowed to bring any alcoholic drinks into the area, he said.

"If any problem happens, commanders of both sides will immediately step in to prevent any fighting." Last week's violence was a misunderstanding and both countries have already discussed and cleared it up.

"We have agreed to cooperate more closely and such fighting won't happen again," he said.

Srey Doek told Khmer media that the meeting with the Thai military was held to normalise the situation and ensure there's no more gunfire.

"We have agreed to stay on our own sides of the border," he added.


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