Sunday, February 6, 2011

Cambodia,Thailand reach ceasefire agreement

Thai and Cambodian soldiers have agreed to end ongoing fighting at their disputed border, which erupted Friday while five Thai soldiers reported captured at a coordination point at Keo Sikha Kiri Svara Pagoda have returned from the area, a Thai army spokesman said Saturday.

The five were posted at the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda and were assigned to coordinate with Cambodian soldiers.

Army spokesman Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the agreement was made following negotiations between Lt Gen Tawatchai Samutsakorn, Second Region Army commander responsible for security affairs in Thailand’s northeastern region, with Cambodia’s Fourth Army commander Lt Gen Chea Mon, held early Saturday.

Besides the ceasefire, both sides also agreed that neither side would reinforce their troops at the border, prevent an “accident” from reoccurring in future and promised to coordinate more closely with an aim to preventing clashes at the ill-defined border from erupting again, Col Sansern said.

Five Thai soldiers who had been detained by Cambodian soldiers while they were stationing at a disputed temple were also freed following the ceasefire talks, he said.

Gen Tawatchai is scheduled to attend a bathing rite ceremony for a Thai soldier who was killed during Saturday’s fighting at a Buddhist temple in the Thai border district of  Kantharalak in Si Sa Ket province later today.

As a goodwill gesture following the ceasefire talks, Gen Tawatchai had ordered the reopening of Chong Jom border point in the northeastern province of Surin. The border point was closed Friday after the clash erupted.

Although the border has reopened, Thai and Cambodian soldiers are still confronting each other in the area and Surin officials have mapped out evacuation plans for Thai villagers in case fighting breaks out. Thai border villagers have been told to monitor the situation closely.

Thai Public Health officials in the region said so far 17 Thais -- 14 soldiers and three civilians -- were wounded from the clashes. Ten of the wounded soldiers had been transported via helicopter to receive treatment at an army hospital in Ubon Ratchathani province.

In the Thai capital of Bangkok, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva held an urgent meeting with several ministers and top security officials at the Government House to assess the situation.

Among those attended the meeting which began at 1pm were Defence Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya, and Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha.