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Thailand welcomes ASEAN to help bilateral talks with Cambodia

Thailand welcomes any assistance to be given by members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in facilitating a border dispute settlement with Cambodia bilaterally, said Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Saturday.

Aishwarya Gupta

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Thailand welcomes any assistance to be given by members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in facilitating a border dispute settlement with Cambodia bilaterally, said Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Saturday.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, the current Asean chair, has invited all Asean foreign ministers to an urgent meeting in Jakarta to discuss the Preah Vihear border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke with Hun Sen and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Tuesday and once again offered UN help in negotiating a peace deal.

Developments moved rapidly as the UNSC met on Monday night to discuss the Thai-Cambodian conflict, urging restraint on both sides and expressing the hope that a resolution could be reached via peaceful means.

The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today named Koïchiro Matsuura as Special Envoy to address the issue of Preah Vihear, a Hindu temple inscribed on the World Heritage List that has been damaged owing to recent border clashes between Cambodia and Thailand.

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Thailand welcomes any assistance to be given by members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Mr. Matsuura, the former Director-General of UNESCO, will visit Bangkok and Phnom Penh to discuss how the site can be safeguarded.

“He will examine with both sides how to lessen tension and promote dialogue around the preservation of the temple, within the Organization’s mandate,” the Paris-based agency said in a news release.

UNESCO had announced earlier this week that it would send a mission to assess the damage caused by the recent armed clashes between the two South-East Asian neighbours to the temple, which was inscribed on the World Heritage List in July 2008.

Tensions first escalated between the two countries that same month following the build-up of military forces near the temple, which dates back to the 11th century and is located on the Cambodian side of the border.

“World Heritage sites are the heritage of all humanity and the international community has a special responsibility to safeguard them. This requires a collective effort that must be undertaken in a spirit of consultation and dialogue,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

“Heritage should unite people and serve as an instrument of dialogue and mutual understanding and not of conflict,” she added.

Mr Abhisit said he expected Asda Jayanama, chief of the Thai-Cambodian Joint commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC), would brief Mr Kasit on the outcome of his meeting with UNESCO director in Paris while the minister is on his way to New York.

The prime minister said he hoped that UNESCO would obtain a clearer picture and also help ease tension.

The International Court of Justice in 1962 ruled that the 11th century Preah Vihear temple belongs to Phnom Penh. UNESCO named it a World Heritage site in 2008 after Cambodia had applied for the status. The country submitted a management plan for the temple to UNESCO’s World Heritage Commission in 2010, which deferred a decision until this year.

On reports which need to be confirmed regarding clashes at the Cambodian border district of Poi Pet, opposite Aranyaprathet, Mr Abhisit said he was only informed of heavy reinforcements in the area and would prefer the military and concerned units either confirm or deny it, as the Thai government’s policy is clear that the country would not invade others and that what it had done was to protect its sovereignty. (MCOT online news)

PM: Thailand welcomes ASEAN to help facilitate bilateral talks between Thailand and Cambodia

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