News / Asia

ASEAN Mediates in Cambodia, Thailand Conflict

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa (C), accompanied by Cambodia Foreign Minister Hor Namhong (L) and Thailand Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya (R) speaks in a news conference after a meeting in Jakarta February 22, 2011
Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa (C), accompanied by Cambodia Foreign Minister Hor Namhong (L) and Thailand Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya (R) speaks in a news conference after a meeting in Jakarta February 22, 2011

Thailand and Cambodia agreed Tuesday to accept Indonesian observers and avoid further clashes over a border dispute. The agreement is a victory for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its current head the Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa who took on a high profile role in mediating the dispute.

After hosting a meeting in Jakarta between the Cambodian foreign minister and his Thai counterpart, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa announced that a unique arrangement had been reached to end the violent clashes between the two countries. Both sides have been fighting over a territory near a historical Hindu Khmer temple on the Thai-Cambodian border.

The foreign ministers, he says, have agreed to what he called an unofficial ceasefire, to allow in unarmed Indonesian military and civilian observers to enforce the ceasefire, and to hold further bilateral talks with Indonesian participation in the near future.

Natalegawa says he is not concerned that the ceasefire is unofficial as long as both sides adhere to it.

"The statement speaks of avoidance of armed conflict and which is what our understanding of a ceasefire is. And so there will be further meeting between the two sides to try to really solidify the present situation. So I am not going to be trapped into legality of is there a ceasefire or not a ceasefire. As long as the guns are silent and the artillery is not making nosies,” Natalegawa said. “I will be quite happy then."

Southeast Asia political analyst Carl Thayer is with the University of New South Wales. He credits Natalegawa, who as chairman of ASEAN took the diplomatic initiative to visit both countries in the past month, and got involved in meetings at the United Nations Security Council in New York. He says the successful mediation efforts gives ASEAN new credibility on issues that affect peace and stability in the region.

"I am very optimistic. It is a very big step for ASEAN,” Thayer stated. “The issue was taken before the UN Security Council and it threw the hot potato to ASEAN to follow through on. And Indonesia as chair, its foreign minister has taken a proactive role and has got the agreement of Thailand and Cambodia to show up when Thailand was saying it could only be settled bilaterally."

ASEAN has a strict policy of non-interference in member states' internal affairs and has been criticized for doing too little to resolve conflicts and preserve regional security. But Natalegawa say when the conflict began in early February, he saw a role for ASEAN to play.

"This is a seminal development in ASEAN's capacity to deal with conflict situation. When the conflict broke out last fourth of February, as head of ASEAN we were sure, certain that sooner or later this issue will come on ASEAN's lap. So it is best that we start early and have the advantage of time and have the advantage of setting the tone," Natalegawa said.

While the ceasefire is a significant breakthrough, Natalegawa says the mediation process is just beginning and finding a permanent solution to the border dispute will take more time and negotiation.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More