PM: Thailand to clarify its stance to UN after Cambodian PM tells UN Thailand threatens force

Monday, August 9, 2010

BANGKOK, Aug 9 (MCOT)- Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (pictured) on Monday affirmed the country's peaceful principles and intentions, saying Thailand is sending a letter to the United Nations to clarify its position regarding its border dispute after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen told the world body Thailand is threatening to use force to settle the wrangle.

Mr Abhisit said the border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia is not yet settled and Thailand is exploring existing and possible measures to find
the best solution for both sides to stay together peacefully.

He said Thailand adheres to peaceful means and is trying to settle bilateral disputes under the law and agreements in place [such as the 2000 Memorandum of Understanding with Cambodia].

Thailand will inform the UN how Cambodia encroached upon Thai territory, he said, strongly affirming that Thailand had to protect its national interests.

The Thai premier's comment came after Mr Hun Sen sent a letter to the UN General Assembly and Security Council in which he accused Thailand of threatening to use its forces to settle the dispute.

Mr Hun Sen's letter, which was also sent to the media, said statements by Mr Abhisit when he addressed the civil society groups on Saturday represented "a clear threat to use military force" to settle the border problem and therefore in violation of UN rules.

The Cambodian premier reaffirmed his country's policy not to use military means to settle disputes with its neighbours but that it reserved its
legitimate right to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity in case of deliberate acts of aggression.

Thai civil society groups led by the so-called Thailand Patriot Network demanded clarification regarding the government's position on the Preah Vihear disputes.

Meanwhile, Deputy Secretary-General to the Prime Minister Panithan Wattanayagorn said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was discussing the matter with experts in international law and related issues. The results are expected to be reported to the premier later today.

However, Dr Panithan -- who is also acting government spokesman -- said Thailand's standpoint would not change, that it would cooperate with neighbouring countries for mutual benefit.

The government is planning to inform the UN regarding three issues -- the legal aspect that Cambodia questioned, how Thailand's territory was intruded upon and Thailand's affirmation on the use of peaceful means and accepted international law, he said.

He said the government is worried that Cambodia was trying to draw a third party into the disputes but affirmed that Thailand would stick to the principle of finding a solution through talks.

Dr Panithan added that resolving a border dispute is normally a matter between the two nations themselves to find a solution and believed that the international community would understand and respect.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban reaffirmed on Monday that the Thai government has not yet ordered the closure of its border despite the verbal spat with Cambodia, but conceded that troops are on standby to protect the country's sovereignty.

Mr Suthep, who oversees national security, also commented on Mr Hun Sen's letter to UN that the Thai foreign ministry is now considering the issue, while reiterating that Thailand upholds to live with its neighbour peacefully.

The Thai deputy premier said that Thai troops are on alert along the Thai-Cambodian border, but they will not intrude into Cambodian territory.

He said the neighbouring country has its right to prepare its armed forces as long as they do not invade Thai soil.

Mr Suthep also gave assurances that the ongoing tension will not lead to the closure of the Thai-Cambodian border.

Tensions between Thailand and Cambodia arose after the Thai government delegation objected to Cambodia's unilateral management plan for the historic Preah Vihear temple as the neighbours could find no common ground to settle the disputed 4.6 sq km of land adjacent to the temple which was granted world heritage status in 2008.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) through its World Heritage Commission (WHC) consequently early this month postponed its discussion of the plan until next year when it meets in Bahrain.

The International Court of Justice in 1962 ruled that the temple belongs to Cambodia.

The ancient Hindu temple was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008. Under the terms of the listing, Cambodia is required to submit a management plan for WHC approval. (MCOT online news)


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