Thailand and Cambodia on Thursday said they had agreed to end fierce fighting on their shared border after seven days of clashes that have left 15 dead. “After discussions by the military on both sides this morning, there is a ceasefire agreement… border checkpoints will be reopened and villagers will start to return home,” said Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn.
Earlier on Thursday, Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh told AFP that a deal had been reached for an end to hostilities and for “soldiers to stay where they are”. Both countries have blamed each other for sparking the violence around two contested jungle temples – the bloodiest fighting between the neighbours in decades – which has displaced around 75,000 civilians. Panitan said the negotiations were “amicable” and troops were confident that the truce could be implemented. But he added: “The ceasefire agreement is preliminary and we have to wait and see how the situation on the ground develops.”
One Thai soldier died on Thursday morning, bringing the total number of the country’s troops killed since the fighting began last Friday to six, while eight have died on the Cambodian side. Bangkok has said a Thai civilian has also been killed. The neighbours had come under increasing international pressure to stop the violence. A statement from European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Wednesday called the conflict “very worrying” and echoed calls made by the UN Security Council in February for a permanent ceasefire.
PIPE OF PEACE – Paul McCartney