Thai, Cambodian PMs fail to end border dispute

The talks between Cambodian and Thai PMs were mediated by Indonesia`s Prez.

Jakarta: Southeast Asian leaders made little headway on Sunday in helping Thailand and Cambodia end a deadly border dispute that could undermine peace and stability in the region as it pushes for economic integration.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, was also poised to agree to Myanmar taking over the rotating chair as scheduled in 2014 despite doubts about the country`s human rights record, according to draft statement seen by a news agency.

The Cambodian and Thai Prime Ministers held talks on Sunday — mediated by Indonesia`s President — as part of efforts to hammer out a lasting ceasefire.

But neither seemed in any mood to back down.

"There`s no conclusion," Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya told reporters after the trilateral meeting, providing no details. "We`ll need further talks after this."

During the plenary session between ASEAN leaders Saturday, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen called a demand by Thailand to withdraw troops from the area "irrational and unacceptable."

"It`s Thailand that has to withdraw its troops from the vicinity," he said, warning that unless ASEAN stepped in, the border dispute could undermine many of the regional grouping`s loftier goals of achieving economic integration by 2015.

And returning to his earlier stance, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the dispute, which has claimed nearly 20 lives in the last two weeks, should be settled between the two countries alone.

Also on the agenda of the two-day ASEAN summit that wraps up on Sunday was Myanmar`s bid to take over the rotating chair of the 10-member regional grouping in 2014 — which appeared set for approval.

A draft of the ASEAN chairman statement says Southeast Asian leaders "consented to the proposal”.

The regional grouping is supposed to rotate the post every year between its 10 member countries.

Myanmar was forced to skip its turn in 2005, however, after coming under heavy pressure from the international community over slow progress on national reconciliation and human rights.

Bureau Report