Survey team not to enter disputed area between Thailand and Cambodia

16:27, May 24, 2011      

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Thailand's Ministry of Defense confirmed Tuesday that a survey team assigned by the ASEAN did not enter the 4.6 square km disputed zone at the Thai-Cambodian border, and the operation will not affect any existing agreements.

Defense Ministry Spokesperson Colonel Thanathip Sawangsaeng stated that the survey had been agreed in the 5th ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting at Jakarta, Indonesia.

He elaborated that the unarmed survey team, which is comprised of three members from each country -- Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, would take about 1-2 days in their mission. The team had nothing to do with any existing agreements or Terms of Reference (ToR), the guideline for deploying Indonesian observers to station along the border, he added.

"The mission of this survey team which was agreed at last week 's ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting is different from Indonesian observers but it is a good start for further cooperation. The team will comprise civilian members and is irrelevant with ToR,"said the spokesman.

The spokesperson expected that arrangement of a Thai-Cambodian General Border Committee (GBC) meeting will be clearer upon the completion of the survey.

Col Thanathip stressed the stance of Thailand once again that foreign observers could be sent into the 4.6 sq-km disputed zone surrounding the contentious Phra Vihear Temple only after Thailand and Cambodia had withdrawn their troops from the area while the GBC meeting must be arranged first.

Following a deadly cross-border fighting from February 4 to 7, Thai, Cambodian and Indonesian foreign ministers attended the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) meeting in New York on Feb. 14 to discuss the conflicts. UNSC meeting urged Thailand and Cambodia to establish "permanent ceasefire" and asked Indonesia to facilitate the talks.

As a result, the Asean informal ministerial meeting on Feb. 22 resolved that Thailand and Cambodia should hold talks and Indonesia offered to deploy observer team along the border to implement permanent truce. However, assignment of Indonesian observers has not yet been realized as the ToR and some agreements have not been finalized.

Source: Xinhua
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