The U.N. Security Council is urging Cambodia and Thailand to resolve their ongoing border dispute and establish a permanent cease-fire. A recent flare up of the decades-old dispute has led to at least 10 deaths during clashes between soldiers from the two southeast Asian nations.
The foreign ministers of Cambodia and Thailand met behind closed doors with the 15-member council and Indonesia’s foreign minister as the chair of regional organization ASEAN.
After the meeting, council president for the month of February, Brazilian Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, read a statement expressing the Security Council’s grave concern about the recent fighting in a remote area near a 900-year-old Khmer Hindu temple.
"The members of the Security Council called on the two sides to display maximum restraint and avoid any action that may aggravate the situation," said Ribeiro Viotti. "The members of Security Council further urged the parties to establish a permanent cease-fire and to implement it fully and resolve the situation peacefully and through effective dialogue. The members of the Security Council expressed support for ASEAN’s active efforts in this matter and encouraged the parties to continue to cooperate with the organization in this regard."
Speaking on behalf of ASEAN, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalagawa told reporters he felt slightly more optimistic about the situation following the U.N. meeting.
"Today during the course of council’s discussion I heard loudly and clearly the wish by council members that actually the preference is for the issue to be resolved peacefully through dialogue and negotiations, and this has been the point that Indonesia as chair of ASEAN has reinforced on many, many occasions," said Natalagawa. "And there was also recognition that the cease-fire must hold and that there must be some sort of modalities or some kind of communications system developed to make sure the cease-fire holds."
Natalagawa said the foreign ministers of ASEAN would discuss the issue next week in Jakarta.
Both sides have blamed the other for starting the hostilities. Cambodia also has accused Thailand of using cluster bombs, a charge Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya firmly denied. He told reporters there is no reason for the border dispute to continue, but said such conflicts take time and political will to resolve.
Cambodia Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong pressed his case to reporters about the use of cluster munitions, saying two experts had determined the Thai side had used them. He also expressed his disappointment the Security Council is not planning to dispatch observers or a fact-finding mission to the area to guarantee the implementation of the cease-fire.