Thailand, Cambodia Urged to Return to Dialogue

KUALA LUMPUR ~ Malaysia urged Thailand and Cambodia this week to restart peace talks to resolve a border conflict which has left two soldiers dead and threatens to embarrass other Southeast Asian nations.
Foreign Minister Rais Yatim said he would carry a peace message from Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to Thailand later in the week.
“I am going there with a message from Prime Minister Abdullah and also with a specific request from me (to the two countries) to deescalate and return to the conference table,” he told reporters.
Rais said Thailand and Cambodia should translate the spirit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and “… find ways of coming back to the fold of friendliness and not to resort to military means.”
His remarks come as Thai and Cambodian military officials postponed talks on Tuesday aimed at calming a border dispute which recently escalated into a deadly shootout.
The talks would now be held on Thursday or Friday, still in Siem Reap.
Two Cambodian soldiers were killed and seven Thai troops injured last Wednesday when a firefight erupted between soldiers stationed on disputed land near Cambodia’s ancient Preah Vihear temple.
Rais said Malaysia’s move should not be regarded as meddling in the affairs of another country.
“This is just an overture of a friend,” he said.
Rais said Thailand and Cambodia should “avoid skirmishes,” as “this is not a positive dot for ASEAN.”
“We have to convince the world that we can take care of our problems,” he said, adding that the deadly conflict could “embarrass ASEAN as a whole.”

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