Sunday, September 20, 2009

PM advises protesters not to enter disputed Preah Vihear zone
BANGKOK, Sept 18 (TNA) - Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Friday warned the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), planning to protest at Khao Phra Viharn national park, against entering the disputed Thai-Cambodian area.

Responding to a report that some PAD protesters will gather near the ancient Preah Vihear temple to demand that Khmer soldiers and villagers move out of the disputed border area, the prime minister said he had instructed security officials to monitor and set limits to the demonstrators movement.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will foster a better understanding with Cambodia at a government-to-government level, he said.

He pointed out that while the protesters had the right to rally, intruding into the disputed area could be risky and would not benefit anyone.

All ministries concerned agreed that the best way for Thailand to retain its rights is to negotiate and adhere to the signed agreement, the prime minister said.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, in charge of security affairs, also warned the PAD not to intrude into the overlapping area at the Preah Vihear temple as it could lead to a further problem between the two countries.

He assured the public that the government would take action immediately to prevent any movement that could cause confrontation or violence.

Mr Suthep said Thailand and Cambodia agreed to resolve the problem peacefully through the Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC). While the committee has been working on the matter, the two sides agreed to not do anything to change the disputed area.

He said the two countries were expected to discuss the issue of the overlapping area at the sidelines of the upcoming ASEAN meeting at an operational level, adding that both sides were willing to resolve the conflict together but the demarcation needs some time to be finalized.

Army Commander-in-Chief Gen Anupong Paojinda, meanwhile, said the movement could affect the bilateral talks of the JBC.

The Army’s stance is in accordance with the government’s policy to resolve the problem through negotiations, he said.

He added that the Army would create understanding among locals and warn them against intruding into areas where disposal of landmines has yet to be completed.

Entering the disputed area can cause misunderstanding and conflict between soldiers of both sides, Gen Anupong said, indicating that if any Thai was arrested (by Cambodian soldiers), the conflict could escalate. (TNA)

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