Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong wrote a letter to Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya on Monday that proposed discussing issues surrounding the ongoing Preah Vihear border dispute at the upcoming Asean summit, which will be held from Oct 23 to 25 in Hua Hin, Thailand.
However, Thai authorities now say this letter was based on incorrect information, and that they would prefer to continue discussing the border dispute bilaterally.
The Bangkok Post reported last week that Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya planned to suggest “the establishment of a neutral organization to settle disputes between Asean countries” that “may provide an avenue for Thailand and Cambodia to settle the dispute” over Preah Vihear.
Mr Namhong referred to this article in his letter, in which he proposed adding the border dispute to the agenda of the Asean summit, but stopped short of endorsing the creation of a new organization.
Thong Thongphakdi, the deputy spokesman for the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said yesterday that Mr Kasit’s remarks had been taken out of context, and that the Thai foreign minister had never proposed Asean involvement in the issue.
“The whole issue stems from a misquote by the press,” he said, “so what we will have to do is explain to the Cambodian side the background of the issue, and that in our belief, our position remains the same: We think that the issue should be settled bilaterally through the Joint Border Commission.”
Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday that the ministry had not yet received an official Thai response to Mr Namhong’s letter.
“Right now everything remains the same from yesterday [Monday],” Mr Kuong said. “We are waiting for an official response from the Thai side.”
He added that the impetus for Mr Namhong’s proposal was the Bangkok Post article. “Before that,” he said, “the Cambodian government was happy to solve the problem bilaterally, but if the Thai side wanted to raise the issue at Asean, Cambodia would be happy with that too.”