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Cambodia; Thailand: Indonesia Offers Assistance Toward Resolving Border Dispute

(May 11, 2011) On May 8, 2011, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) concluded a summit meeting in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, which is currently chairing the Association. Among the issues discussed was the border dispute between two of the organization's ten member states, Cambodia and Thailand. The Prime Ministers of the two countries, Abhisit Vejjajiva of Thailand and Hun Sen of Cambodia, had held separate press conferences on May 8, showing that there had been no progress at that time on aresolution. Options such as the establishment of a joint border committee to find a peaceful resolution of the conflict, a proposal made by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, had been rejected by the two countries. (Adianto P. Simamora, As ASEAN Summit Ends, RI to Broker Border Talks, THE JAKARTA POST (May 9, 2011).)

On May 9, Indonesia began anew its work to broker a solution by hosting a meeting between Foreign Ministers Hor Namhong of Cambodia and Kasit Priomya of Thailand. (Id.) Following the three-hour session, described as “constructive and comprehensive,” the two nations agreed to another day of discussions. The plan under discussion reportedly involves deployment of a team from Indonesia to act as observers in the disputed border region. (Kathy Quiano, Thailand, Cambodia Make Progress on Border Dispute, CNN WORLD (May 9, 2011).)

ASEAN leaders released a statement commending Cambodia and Thailand for taking steps to resolve the dispute, expressing “appreciation and support for the continuing effort of Indonesia to facilitate the process through its appropriate engagement, which will help advance our collective effort to attain an ASEAN community.” (Simamora, supra.)

There has been fighting in the disputed area around Preah Vihear temple since last month; at least 20 people have been killed and thousands have been displaced from their homes as a result. (Quiano, supra.)