RI hosts another round of Thai, Cambodia border talks
We meet again: Defense ministers Gen. Tea Bahn of Cambodia ( from left), Purnomo Yusgiantoro of Indonesia and Prawit Wongsuwon of Thailand greet each other as they meet ahead of the 5th ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting in Jakarta on Wednesday. AP/Achmad Ibrahim
With one chance after another to resolve their current dispute, Thailand and Cambodia have met yet again over the border issue that has ignited repeated skirmishes between the two nations.
Thai Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwon and Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh met on Wednesday on the sidelines of the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM). That meeting inspired hopes that the resolution Indonesia, as the current chair of ASEAN, has brokered will proceed and conclude in peace.
Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro held a number of separate talks with his ASEAN counterparts, as Indonesia is trying to build a climate of defense cooperation among countries in the region.
The ADMM will officially open on Thursday and conclude on Friday.
“We were talking in order to find a good way to bring the situation back to normal,” Banh told reporters of the bilateral meeting with his Thai counterpart.
“We are moving forward for the best interests of both countries,” he said.
But he failed to elaborate what progress had been made between the two countries.
Wongsuwon refused to be interviewed when The Jakarta Post approached him.
Repeated skirmishes have occurred in Thai-Cambodia border areas in the vicinity of three ancient temples — Preah Vihear, Ta Moan and Ta Krabey — claiming at least 23 lives on both sides since early this year.
While Cambodia has exchanged a formal letter on terms of reference for the Indonesian observers dispatched to the disputed area, Thailand refused to sign, demanding Cambodian troops withdraw from the area, which Cambodia refused.
While boasting of the success of the bilateral talks between Cambodia and Thailand, Indonesian Defense Ministry secretary-general Eris Herryanto said Thailand had not signed the package solution and that the talks went “alright”.
“There was significant progress during the bilateral talks,” he told reporters, without further elaborating.
He also said the conditions for withdrawal of Cambodian troops were not discussed in the bilateral talks.
Earlier in the day, Purnomo met with Vietnam Defense Minister Gen. Phung Quang Thanh on boosting cooperation between the two countries’ marine forces.
Later, Purnomo spoke with Myanmar’s Defense Minister Maj. Gen. Hla Min in the first meeting between the two ministers.
“All this time, the cooperation in security between the two countries has not been intense enough due to Myanmar’s condition. The visit is expected to increase the [cooperation],” Eris said.
Meanwhile, Purnomo and his Malaysian counterpart Ahmad Zahid Hamidi have agreed to promote the creation of the ASEAN Defense Industry Collaboration (ADIC) to tap the huge military spending in the region.
Purnomo said military spending by ASEAN members reached US$25 billion per year.
“Currently there are four ASEAN member countries with established defense industries: Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. But, the region is still a net importer of weapons and systems.”
Three steps in a package solution proposed by Indonesia
• Exchanging formal letters on the terms of reference for the observers;
• Announcing the GBC/JBC meeting.
Step 2 (five days after Step 1 is implemented)
• Dispatching an initial survey team;
• Holding a meeting of the GBC/JBC.
Step 3 (ten days after Step 1)
• Fully assigning the team of observers;
• Following up on the results of the GBC/JBC meeting.
Source: The Nation, May 12, 2011