Wed, Feb 16, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Thailand, Cambodia still at odds after UN peace appeal


Thailand and Cambodia showed no sign yesterday of narrowing their differences on how to end a deadly border rift, with Bangkok reporting a new skirmish just hours after a UN appeal for a lasting ceasefire.

Thailand said one of its soldiers was wounded in the latest flare-up at the frontier early yesterday, but described the incident as relatively minor. The two armies accused each other of using hand grenades.

Bangkok urged its neighbor to return to the table for bilateral talks to settle the row centered on a 900-year-old temple, which erupted into four days of armed clashes earlier this month.

“When the international community thinks the problem should be solved through negotiation, Cambodia has no reason to refuse. They should return to the talks,” Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said.

However, Phnom Penh rejected the call, insisting on the need for third-party mediation.

“Bilateral negotiations do not work,” said Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong, who described a UN Security Council meeting on the matter as “a success” for his country.

“Cambodia’s stance is to resolve the dispute peacefully,” he said, but “all negotiations must always have the participation of a third party.”

“What Cambodia wants is a permanent ceasefire. This is the most important issue,” he added.

In New York, UN Security Council members called for “maximum restraint” in the standoff, council president Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti of Brazil said after a closed-door meeting attended by the foreign ministers of the two countries as well as Indonesia, which has tried to mediate in the dispute.

“Members of the Security Council urge the parties to establish a permanent ceasefire and to implement it fully,” she said.

However, just hours later the two countries’ armies were trading accusations again about the latest incident.

“Cambodia threw hand grenades into Thailand at around 5am this morning,” Thai army spokesman Colonel Sunsern Kaewkumnerd said.

A Cambodian military commander near the border, who did not wish to be named denied the charge, saying Thai troops regularly threw grenades, but Cambodian forces did not retaliate.

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