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Thailand Wants Terms of Asean Mission

Cambodia says the 11th-Century temple was damaged by Thai artillery in border clashes in February and has asked Unesco to assess the damage.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva says Thailand and Cambodia must still discuss the bilateral terms for an Indonesian monitoring mission to the border.

In remarks Wednesday, the premier said he has requested Indonesia delay the border mission, which follows deadly clashes last month, until its scope and areas can be determined.

“Otherwise, it may lead to further problems and dispute in terms of settlement claims,” he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday criticized Thailand for a slow response to the documentation needed for Asean observers at the border.

Indonesia hopes to send observers to both sides of the border, following deadly clashes last month, but Thailand has so far failed to agree to the terms of reference.

Thailand’s reticence could cause a delay to the observer mission. But Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong told VOA Khmer that Cambodia will accept Indonesian monitors with or without Thailand.

“We’ve clearly said that in case Thailand objects, then Cambodia agrees to take them unilaterally,” he said.

Observers say the discrepancy can lead to problems for the Indonesian mission, which as planned would put observers on each side of the border to ensure no further border fighting takes place.

Clashes in early February left at least 10 people dead and caused damage to portions of Preah Vihear temple, a Unesco World Heritage site. After the fighting, both sides agreed in principle to observers from Indonesia, which is the current head of Asean.

Thai officials say they expect to hold further talks with Cambodia March 7 and March 8 during a joint border committee meeting. However, Koy Kuong said Cambodia has not agreed to those dates.

Cambodian officials maintain they will not negotiate the border with Thailand without the presence of Asean officials as witnesses.