BANGKOK, May 5 – Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Thursday asserted he will not endorse the documents endorsing the presence of Indonesian observers at the disputed border of Thailand and Cambodia until its neighbour withdraws its troops and citizens from the contested area.
The Thai premier reaffirmed his stance again as Indonesia, as current chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), proposed to send observers to the Thai-Cambodian borders following sporadic clashes of troops of the two neighbours, with both accusing the other of causing the clashes.
Mr Abhisit said there are written documents on the manning of Indonesian observers and the Thai foreign ministry has discussed with Indonesia that the observers will be allowed only if Cambodia first withdraws its troops and residents from the 4.6 square kilometre tract contested by the two countries.
The presence of the Cambodians in the disputed area breaches the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by both countries in 2000 and it is the duty of Indonesia to seek cooperation from Phnom Penh on the matter, Mr Abhisit said.
“I won’t endorse any document allowing the Indonesian observers if Thailand’s request is not responded to,” Mr Abhisit reasserted.
The content of the agreement is not the problem, Mr Abhisit emphasised. “Progress depends on the talks between Thailand and Indonesia, and also between Indonesia and Cambodia. Our ultimate goal is to avoid any clash at the border,” said the Thai premier.
As Cambodia is now seeking an International Court of Justice (ICJ)’s interpretation of its 1962 ruling on Preah Vihear and accuses Thailand of attempting to claim Cambodian territory, Mr Abhisit said Thailand expects to give facts to the world over the series of clashes which he says indicate Phnom Penh’s intention to internationalise the conflict.
The court, based in The Hague, ruled in 1962 that the ancient temple belonged to Cambodia, but did not rule on the surrounding area and both Phnom Penh and Bangkok claim ownership of the 4.6-square-kilometre tract.
When asked whether Thailand is at disadvantage in contending the case, Mr Abhisit reaffirmed there are several aspects that Thailand can contest in the court, but refused to give further detail, citing concerns over the affect on the case. (MCOT online news)