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Philippines 'ready to help' in border row

Philippines 'ready to help' in border row

Philippine President Benigno Aquino said his country was prepared to step in to help resolve a bitter Thai-Cambodian border row, during a visit to Bangkok on Thursday.

Saturday 28 May 2011, 03:38AM

Aquino said that the Philippines was ready to send observers to help efforts to cool the dispute, which erupted into deadly clashes between the neighbours last month, if they were needed.

"If both sides are interested, the Philippines is ready to help," he told reporters following a meeting with Thailand's leader Abhisit Vejjajiva.

The fighting, which left 18 dead and temporarily displaced 85,000, dominated the annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this month, and failure to find a resolution raised doubts over the effectiveness of regional diplomacy.

Tensions between Thailand and Cambodia centre on a small patch of land surrounding the 11th century Preah Vihear temple on their shared border, although the most recent clashes were about 150 km (90 miles) further west.

Dan About Thailand

The relationship between the neighbours has been strained since Preah Vihear was granted UN World Heritage status in July 2008.

Thailand and Cambodia agreed in February to accept Indonesian military observers on the border but the initiative remains on ice due to Thai demands that Cambodia first pull troops out of the temple.

Aquino, who arrived in Thailand Thursday afternoon, is expected to meet members of the Filipino community in Bangkok before departing for Manila on Friday afternoon.


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