5 Thai soldiers injured in fresh border clash
Updated: 2011-02-16 13:12
Five Thai soldiers were wounded, one seriously, in a fresh clash on Monday night with Cambodian soldiers along the border, just hours after the United Nations appealed for a permanent ceasefire in the disputed area, a Thai army commander said on Tuesday.
The Bangkok Post quoted Lieutenant General Tawatchai Samutsakhon, commander of Thailand's Second Army, which is deployed in the Thai-Cambodian border area, as saying Cambodian troops launched an attack on the Thai base in Phu Ma Khua near the contested territory.
Both Thailand and Cambodia claimed vindication on Tuesday after the UN called for restraint, showing no sign of bridging differences over how to end the rift.
Thailand urged its neighbor to return to the table for bilateral talks to settle the row centered on a 900-year-old temple, which erupted into four days of clashes earlier this month, leaving at least 10 people dead.
"When the international community thinks the problem should be solved through negotiation, Cambodia has no reason to refuse. They should return to the talks," Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said.
But Phnom Penh rejected the call, insisting on the need for third-party mediation.
"Bilateral negotiations do not work," said Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong, who described a UN Security Council meeting on the matter as "a success" for his country.
"Cambodia's stance is to resolve the dispute peacefully," he said, but "all negotiations must always have the participation of a third party".
He added: "What Cambodia wants is a permanent ceasefire. This is the most important issue."
The Thai Foreign Ministry insisted that the contentious listing of the ancient Preah Vihear temple as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as a development plan for the surrounding area must be halted until negotiations on border demarcation between Thailand and Cambodia could reach agreement.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said that China was concerned by the fighting, expressing sorrow for the dead and injured of the conflict.
"We hope the two sides could maintain restraint and try their best to ease the tension," said Ma.
"We also hope the two countries can look toward the long-tern development of bilateral relations and regional peace and stability as a whole, and solve relevant disputes properly through dialogue and consultation."
China supports mediation efforts by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to ease the tension and "would like to work with ASEAN and the international community to play a constructive role in solving the issue properly", Ma said.
In New York, UN Security Council members called for "maximum restraint" in the standoff, Council President Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti of Brazil said after a meeting attended by the foreign ministers of the two countries as well as Indonesia, which has tried to mediate in the dispute.
"The idea is to work in synergy with the regional efforts - and right now regional efforts are in full force - and resolve the situation peacefully and through effective dialogue," Viotti said.
1. How many people have died in the recent round of clashes this year?
2. Who is said to have attacked first in the recent clash?
（中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑）
Todd Balazovic is a reporter for the Metro Section of China Daily. Born in Mineapolis Minnesota in the US, he graduated from Central Michigan University and has worked for the China Daily for one year.
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