The sound of gunfire along the Thai-Cambodia border on Sunday appeared to have fallen silent, at least for the moment, after an emphatic call by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for “immediate measures for an effective and verifiable ceasefire”.
As on the preceding two days of intermittent fighting, Cambodia and Thailand blamed each other for starting Sunday's clash. However, even as their defence forces counted new casualties and as more civilians in the troubled areas were evacuated, the political focus shifted to the differences over ways to end the crisis.
In Bangkok, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Thailand “will not fall into Cambodia's trap of inflating the issue” of title to a few temples along their border and arguing that the competing claims could not be resolved bilaterally. However, the real issue, in his view, was that Thai sovereignty was at stake and direct talks with Cambodia were needed to address this.
Also seeking to dispel the impression that the Thai military was orchestrating this crisis for domestic political reasons, Mr. Abhisit said he was in constant communication with the defence leaders.
In Phnom Penh, the Foreign Ministry rejected what it described as Thailand's “slanderous and false allegation” that Cambodia was to blame for the starting the current round of hostilities. The only way forward was to allow the deployment of Indonesian military observers along the border between Thailand and Cambodia.
However, Thailand had not yet accepted the draft terms for such a deployment, although the three countries had agreed, several weeks ago, that the Indonesian observers could help prevent clashes, the Cambodian Foreign Ministry said.
Keywords: Thai-Cambodia relations