Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Indonesia to send observers to mediate Thailand-Cambodia border dispute

Indonesia has announced that it will deploy military observers to mediate the long-running border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia, after the two sides agreed to request Jakarta's involvement.

The announcement makes a breakthrough for the dispute, which has seen a number of deadly clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops around the Preah Vihear temple. The temple was given to Cambodia by the International Court of Justice in 1962, but Thailand continues to claim the surrounding land.

After flares in violence over the past two years, Bangkok and Phnom Penh have begun talking about de-escalating the situation and finding a compromise. The Association of South East Asian Nations, with Indonesia playing a leading role, has been instrumental in bringing the two sides to the negotiating table.

In late December Thailand and Cambodia agreed to simultaneously redeploy their troops from the disputed border area, and agreed to set up a working group to do so. Progress has been slow, however, and international observers were requested to oversee the process.

Indonesian military officials are still calculating the exact terms of their deployment but are expected to deploy within the next few months. They will work in joint teams with Thai and Cambodian observers along the disputed zone.

They will not, however, make any recommendations or decisions regarding the actual ownership of the border zone around the temple. The process of determining ownership will only start when troops have been withdrawn and military tensions are reduced.

Sources: Jakarta Post, AFP

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