Indonesia, as this year’s ASEAN chair, has tried to facilitate a ceasefire by offering to send 30 observers to be stationed at hotspots along the Thai-Cambodian border.

South-East Asian leaders gathered Saturday for a summit which promises to focus on the region’s efforts at conflict resolution but is overshadowed by an ongoing border spat between Thailand and Cambodia.

“If conflict occurs, ASEAN must be capable of facilitating a forum for diplomacy and open dialogue with the intent of attaining common peace,” said Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in his opening speech at the 18th summit of the Association of South-East Nations (ASEAN) summit in Jakarta.

ASEAN members Thailand and Cambodia are embroiled in a border conflict over disputed territory near the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple, a World Heritage Site.

Fighting over two other temples on their border, Ta Muen and Ta Kwai, broke out last month, leaving eight dead on each side.

Indonesia, as this year’s ASEAN chair, has tried to facilitate a ceasefire by offering to send 30 observers to be stationed at hotspots along the Thai-Cambodian border.

The offer has been accepted, but deployment awaits an agreement between Bangkok and Phnom Penh over the withdrawal of all troops from the Preah Vihear and disputed areas.

Cambodia refuses to give in to Thai demands to withdraw its soldiers from the Preah Vihear complex on the grounds that the temple is on its territory.

A resolution to the spat is not expected in Jakarta.

“If we are going for perfection in one blow, we may not go anywhere,” said Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, who implied that the issue of troop withdrawal might require more talks.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart Abhisit Vejjajiva have vowed not to hold bilateral talks on the summit’s sidelines. The second of the two annual ASEAN summit is scheduled for November in Bali.

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