Friday, February 25, 2011

A new role for ASEAN in the Thailand-Cambodia border row

Thailand and Cambodia have agreed to allow Indonesia to monitor the ceasefire over the border near the Preah Vihear temple. A step said to be historical for ASEAN, which has been known for its non-interference policy.

At the end of an informal meeting of foreign ministers from the Association of South East Asian Nations ASEAN in Jakarta, it was announced that Indonesia, as the current chair of ASEAN, is expected shortly to send an observing team to both sides of the Thai-Cambodian border. The unarmed observers consisting of both civilian and military personnel will then report to ASEAN and the UN Security Council. Moreover, Thailand and Cambodia, which have both accused each other of starting the clashes around the Hindu temple of Preah Vihear, will also involve Indonesia in future bilateral talks. Bangkok had previously resisted Cambodian calls for third-party mediation.

ASEAN's Director General, Djauhari Oratmangun, is satisfied with the progress, calling it a historical step that the organization has never been seen before. He said further, "everyone agrees that in order to reach the goal of an ASEAN Community by 2015, ASEAN has to show the international world that if there is a big conflict between two ASEAN countries, then ASEAN can solve the problem. This is amazing."

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