Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday rejected mediation offers in Cambodia’s border conflict with Thailand, saying the two countries remained friendly despite three firefights between troops near Preah Vihear temple on Wednesday.
Hun Sen also warned an increasingly skittish public not to be “terrified” following the fighting, which set thousands of people to flight from the border to the Cambodian interior.
Malaysia and Indonesia on Friday offered to mediate in the border dispute, which centers around a small strip of disputed border territory near the ancient, cliff-top temple. But Hun Sen said Cambodia remained dedicated to bilateral talks with Thailand.
“We have not yet become enemies,” he told reporters after a weekly meeting with the Council of Ministers.
Some countries were seeking to put the conflict on the agenda of an upcoming meeting between European and Asian leaders, in Beijing, he said.
“Right now, we don’t need that,” Hun Sen said. “We have many mechanisms to solve this conflict, and we have bilateral talks between the foreign ministries and the militaries on both sides. So we will push these mechanisms to resolve the conflict.”
"People should understand that there won't be any large-scale war taking place," he added, seeking to quell worries after a statement from the Cambodian Foreign Ministry warned on Wednesday that provocation from Thailand could lead to wider conflict.
Wednesday’s fighting prompted Cambodians to flee the border in droves, from many different points on the border, including Anglong Veng and O’Smach in Oddar Meanchey province.
Hun Sen’s announcement followed a day of talks between military commanders near Preah Vihear temple Thursday, where both sides agreed to hold joint patrols at Viel Intry, or Eagle Field, one of the sites of Wednesday’s violence.
Hun Sen said Friday more talks between commanders were expected, as well as upcoming meetings between the countries’ foreign ministers.