Saturday, April 4, 2009

"I don't call it a war..."

Those are the best words that a Prime Minister trying to defuse a crisis can possibly say, and they are just what Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia said at a speech given shortly after a deadly incident Friday (local time) that resulted in a prolonged exchange of fire between Thai and Cambodian forces near the Preah Vihear temple site.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen sought to downplay the latest incident during a Saturday speech to handicapped veterans and villagers in the southern province of Kampot.

"It is normal that every side has the right to self-defence. If they come, it happens. And as we enter their territory they also have the right to fire at us," Hun Sen told the crowd.

"But we consider this (clash) an incident. I don't call it a war... We are very sorry. We don't want Cambodian or Thai soldiers to die," he added.
Of course, it is easy to be magnanimous when your side took no apparent casualties. Two Royal Thai Army soldiers have died, and 10 more are still hospitalized.

Perhaps more disturbing is the continued use of heavy weapons in the area. Rocket and mortar fire occurred, as well as machine gun fire, in the skirmishes after the initial exchange that resulted in all the casualties reported.

The Cambodian Foreign Ministry says that this will not interfere with either ASEAN or joint border talks scheduled shortly.

Here's hoping that is so. This needs to end.

No comments: