Cambodia and Thailand have agreed to attend a meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers in Jakarta on February 22 to discuss ways of solving the border issue between the two Southeast Asian neighbours, said a top Indonesian diplomat.

Most of the other ASEAN countries have approved the foreign ministers’ meeting, although some may be absent due to previous arrangements, said Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, adding that Cambodia and Thailand are both committed to attending.

The main objective of the meeting in Jakarta is to encourage the two countries to continue to commit to a peaceful settlement of the dispute and to renounce the use of force and the threat of the use of force, as stated in ASEAN’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation and also included in its Charter, the Jakarta Post quoted Natalegawa as saying.

He also said the other objective of the Jakarta meeting was to ensure a climate conducive to resuming negotiations between the two countries.

Earlier at a closed-door meeting on February 14, the UN Security Council expressed its “grave concern” over the recent clashes, calling on both countries to exert maximum restraint, avoid any actions that may aggravate the situation and establish a permanent ceasefire agreement.

Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Natalegawa, who in his capacity as chair of ASEAN at the UNSC meeting, stressed on the need to solve the conflict peacefully through dialogue and negotiations, with help from ASEAN.

He expressed his optimism about a settlement being reached between Cambodian and Thailand.

Cambodia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hor Namhong, said on February 16 that his country will ask ASEAN to send observers to the disputed border area with Thailand near the Preah Vihear temple to ensure a permanent ceasefire.

Cambodia will also raise the request at the forthcoming ASEAN meeting and ask the ASEAN chair or a representative to attend every meeting held between Cambodia and Thailand, even meetings between the Cambodian-Thai Border Commission.

Also on the same day, the Thai Foreign Minister’s Secretary, Chavanond Intarakomalayasut, said the two countries’ defence ministers will also discuss a ceasefire in the disputed area./.