News / Asia

Conflict and Controversy Overshadow Unity at ASEAN Summit

Heads of states and governments of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations pose for a group shot during the opening ceremony of the 18th ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, May 7, 2011
Heads of states and governments of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations pose for a group shot during the opening ceremony of the 18th ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, May 7, 2011
Brian Padden

The prime ministers of Cambodia and Thailand exchanged heated words over their border conflict at the ASEAN summit and Burma received an endorsement in principle to head the organization in 2014, despite its poor human-rights record.   

Since February, nearly 30 people have been killed and thousands displaced in both Thailand and Cambodia because of ongoing military clashes between the two countries over a border area near a historic temple.

Sunday, the leaders of Thailand and Cambodia held separate news conferences after trading accusations earlier at the ASEAN Summit about which country is responsible for the conflict.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said it was Cambodia that began this conflict by stationing troops in the disputed area in violation of a bilateral agreement both signed in 2000, and he says they have prolonged the conflict by trying to get international organizations involved.

"But the problems that have occurred in recent times I think demonstrate the determination of Cambodia to internationalize the issue," Vejjajiva said.

He says Thailand and Cambodia should resolve the conflict without the intervention of the United Nations or the International Court of Justice, and while Thailand agreed Friday to allow in Indonesian observers to the conflict area, he says, that agreement should be linked to the removal of both Cambodian and Thai troops from the disputed region as well.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Thailand must formally agree to allow in Indonesian observers before further negotiations could continue.  He also rejected Thailand's demand Cambodia withdraw its military from the conflict area.

He says the withdrawal of Cambodia armed forces from their territory is not acceptable.

At the end of a two day ASEAN Summit in Jakarta that was supposed to be about trade and economic development in the region, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono met with the leaders of Thailand and Cambodia to try to resolve the border conflict between them.

He said he offered to get everyone to agree to create a package of solutions, so both sides can agree to the same timeline.

The Thai and Cambodian prime ministers agreed to extend the foreign ministers' time in Jakarta to further discuss these issues. Both will meet Monday with ASEAN Chairman and Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.

Other ASEAN leaders expressed frustration the armed dispute between members was threatening the organization's credibility and taking away from achievements made at the summit on regional economic integration.  

ASEAN Leaders also approved in principle Burma's request to take over the organization chair in 2014.  President Yudhoyono said ASEAN's approval of Burma's request is contingent on that country making continued democratic progress.

Human-rights groups voiced objections to Burma's bid. Military led Burma is under Western sanctions for serial human-rights abuses.   

In 2005 Burma was pressured to give up the leadership of ASEAN after the United States and the European Union threatened to boycott the organization. ASEAN groups Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, Philippines and Burma.  

Other issues discussed at the summit include food and energy security, territorial disputes in the South China Sea, human trafficking, and East Timor's membership bid.

You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' 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 Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs