Thailand’s Supreme Commander Gen. Boonsang Niempradit and Cambodia’s Defence Minister Tea Banh announced at a press conference in this eastern Thai border province following eight hours of informal discussion that the only issue two sides agreed upon for now is to refrain from using force.
As a result of failing to strike any agreement during the informal session, the two sides decided against convening the formal Joint Thai Cambodian Border Committee meeting.
Heads of the two delegations indicated that they will meet again after general elections in Cambodia.
Gen. Boonsang said no agreement was reached because of differences over the legal framework. Thailand wanted to use the US version of cartography whereas Cambodia insisted on the French version of border demarcation.
Both commanders said they now have to report back to their respective authorities for a political decision on what legal basis to follow in order to move talks forward.
But for now, Gen Boonsang and his counterpart are adamant that both sides will refrain from troop reinforcement, and to avoid escalating border tensions.
“The talks did not fail. We both gained and the concrete achievement resulting from the meeting today is that we remain at peace,” said Gen. Boonsang.
Gen. Tea Banh, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, said both delegations have tried their best and have reached certain degree of mutual understanding, even though the joint border committee session could not be convened as originally planned.
Asked to comment on why Cambodia brought the case up to the UN, Gen. Tea Banh said the move was part of Cambodia’s efforts to resolve the conflict and that the inconclusive talks today amidst tense border stand-off would not lead to violence.
The Preah Vihear issue is high on the agenda at the 41st Asean foreign ministers meeting which started Monday in Singapore. In the latest development on the controversial issue, Asean secretary general Surin Pitsuwan told Thai News Agency late Monday evening that Cambodia’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister Hor Nam Hong had sent a letter to George Yeo, Singapore?s foreign minister and outgoing Asean chairman, highlighting tensions on the Preah Vihear issue had escalated.
The letter also claimed Thailand had deployed more forces to the disputed area. It?s understood an inter ministerial meeting on the Preah Vihear issue has been organised for Tuesday lunchtime on the sidelines of the Asean ministerial meeting.
Asean members expected to attend the talks include Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and Laos.(TNA)