The deteriorating situation along the Thai-Cambodian border was undermining confidence in Asean and affecting economic recovery, tourism and investment prospects, Asean chief Surin Pitsuwan said in an urgent message to the two countries over the latest deadly flare-up.
The violent conflict started with gunfire and an artillery dual in mid-afternoon on Friday near the long disputed site of Phra Viharn/Preah Vihear Temple. While the International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the temple belonged to Cambodia, areas close to it are claimed by both sides.
Surin called on both sides to allow Asean to help them reach some form of temporary truce and cool down the emotions and anger so that the higher interest of both peoples and Asean could be protected and enhanced.
“The situation has escalated into open conflict. And that will definitely affect our economic development, confidence in our region, and tourism and prospects for foreign investment, which have just been picking up in light of the world economic recovery,” he said.
Diplomatic sources revealed that Surin’s wishes would materialise soon as Indonesia, the current Asean chair, is also stepping up diplomatic efforts to help the two sides find a temporary solution, so that bilateral mechanisms can accomplish their objectives of border demarcation and peace.