International Community Asks for Peace at Border

The international community continued to press Thailand and Cambodia to resolve their border issues peacefully and bilaterally, as world leaders are expected in Beijing for the Asian-European summit Friday.

“[French Foreign] Minister Bernard Kouchner has been in touch, in the past few hours, with his Cambodian and Thai counterparts to express our preoccupation and our wish for a peaceful resolution to this conflict,” the French Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement on Monday night.
Kouchner is set to arrive in Beijing with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday. Prime Minister Hun Sen left Monday for China, where Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat is also expected for the ASEM summit.

“In Beijing, Prime Minister Hun Sen plans to meet Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat,” Hun Sen adviser Sry Thamarong said at Phnom Penh International Airport Monday morning, though the meeting between the two premiers could not be confirmed.

Somchai has said he wishes to meet Hun Sen, but canceled a planned visit to Phnom Penh early last week because of internal political turmoil in Bangkok. Somchai, who was elected in September, also canceled introductory visits with other Asean leaders.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia will send a message to Somchai asking for restraint and peaceful resolution of the border dispute with Cambodia, Malaysian national news agency Bernama reported.

“We need to preserve harmony in Asean,” Bernama quoted Malaysian Foreign Minister Rais Yatim as telling reporters. “And it is not only Malaysia that has been asked by the Asean secretariat to help but one or two other Asean member states as well.”

Rais said that Asean had a role to play in the dispute, despite assurances from Thailand and Cambodia that they did not want outside intervention.

Thai and Cambodian military officials from the Regional Border Committee plan to meet in Siem Reap on Thursday to discuss the border issue, Cambodian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said.

Meanwhile, at Chhup Tralok in Oddar Meanchey province, about 9 km from the disputed Ta Moan temple complex, provincial border police chief Kat Sokheun claimed that Thai troops have been stationed on Cambodian land since Oct 12.

“Eleven Thai troops built their camps and did not allow us to get there,” he said by telephone Monday.

However, Banteay Ampil District Deputy Governor Chap Phat, Oddar Meanchey Provincial Governor Pich Sokhin and RCAF Region 4 secretary-general of staff Nark Vong, stationed at Ta Moan temple, all said they did not know about the reported Thai presence.

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