Hun Sen Will Meet Thai PM If Asked, Gov’t Says

The Foreign Ministry yesterday offered a guarded reception to news media accounts that Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva and Prime Minister Hun Sen may meet to discuss disagreements over their shared border at an Asean summit planned for October in Brussels.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday he could not confirm that such a meeting would take place but said if Mr Abhisit requested a meeting, Mr Hun Sen would be willing to sit down and talk to his Thai counterpart.

“During their meeting on Monday, Mr Surin Pitsuwan asked if Mr Hun Sen would be willing to meet Mr Abhisit at the Europe meeting if Mr Abhisit made the request,” Mr Kuong said. “Mr Hun Sen said that if Mr Abhisit requests the meeting, then he would meet with him.”

Thai newspapers reported yesterday that Asean Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan, who met with Mr Hun Sen in Phnom Penh this week, expected the two leaders to meet at the Brussels summit to discuss their border dispute over territory near World Heritage-listed Preah Vihear temple.

Cambodia on Saturday called on Asean to mediate the border dispute. Though it appeared Mr Surin had taken some steps to mediate between the two countries, a statement released by the Thai government yesterday said Mr Abhisit wished to solve the dispute “without any intervention of Asean.”

Contacted yesterday, Thai Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said his ministry was drafting a letter to Asean in response to Cambodia’s request for mediation.

“In principle, Thailand believes that this issue should be addressed bilaterally using existing mechanisms available under the 2000 memorandum of understanding” on border issues, Mr Thani said, before declining to say whether Thailand would reject any multilateral solution.

The Cambodian government says the bilateral Joint Border Commission has not been able to continue with its border demarcation work because the Thai government has failed to ratify reports from its meetings.

Mr Thani yesterday said the Thai government hoped the meeting minutes would be ratified soon. “We hope that a Joint Border Commission meeting can be held soon and the minutes from the previous meetings have been submitted to the Parliament for approval,” he said.

Mr Thani could not be reached to respond to subsequent reports of a propsed meeting between the two prime ministers in Brussels.

The press and quick reaction unit at the Council of Ministers released a statement yesterday denouncing senior Thai officials, including Mr Abhisit, for continuing to inflame tensions along the border.

“Abhisit’s campaign of intoxication using innuendo, wild suggestion and off-based speculation hit him back, and the intensity of the shock is an equivalent of political suicide,” the statement said. “In a frenzy of putting many lies together, Mr Abhisit falls flat on his face.”

 

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