Prime Minister Hun Sen responded Wednesday to opposition criticism of his handling of the border dispute with Thailand, saying he would pursue bilateral talks with Bangkok and would not raise the issue for discussion at the Asean summit set to start Feb 27.
Hun Sen also said that he would address the National Assembly about the six-month-long border standoff as the Sam Rainsy Party had requested, but then threatened the opposition with unspecified consequences for its insistence on the matter.
“They wanted to ask me [about the border dispute] inside the National Assembly; I have written statements, but they don’t like that. I will go to the National Assembly [and] at that time, I will read the same statement and you will face another problem. It will happen,” the prime minister said Wednesday in a speech in the Oddar Meanchey provincial capital of Samraong.
SRP lawmaker Son Chhay requested in November that Hun Sen appear in front of the National Assembly to explain his handling of the border standoff with Thailand. He also demanded explanations as to why Thai soldiers remained around Preah Vihear temple and why the government hadn’t sought the assistance of Asean members.
Son Chhay was abroad and could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
SRP President Sam Rainsy said his party was still against bilateral talks, as the dispute should involve countries that were signatory to the 1991 Paris Peace Accords.
“To me, the solution for Preah Vihear is through the Paris Peace Accords,” Sam Rainsy said by telephone.
But on Tuesday, Hun Sen rejected the notion of raising the border tensions with other regional leaders at the upcoming summit.
“I will not raise the border dispute in the Asean summit. The Asean summit will be about the general situation of the Asean countries,” Hun Sen said.
He added that if another country raised the issue, he would reply that he would settle it bilaterally with Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. International institutions would only be used as a last resort in case of open confrontation, he added.
“We will go to the [UN] Security Council and the International Court of Justice. I don’t abandon the two means. We will go to the Security Council when Thailand openly attacks us,” Hun Sen said.
The prime minister also confirmed the upcoming visit to Phnom Penh of Thailand’s new foreign minister, Kasit Piromya, on Sunday and Monday.
“If the Thai foreign minister sticks to the [results of previous] talks, we will start demarcating in the Preah Vihear area and demining,” Hun Sen said.