JAKARTA, Nov 7 (Bernama)-- Asean chief Surin Pitsuwan has expressed concern about the escalation of tensions between Cambodia and Thailand , and appealed to both sides "to exercise maximum restraint", Indonesia's Antara news agency reported Saturday.
The Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) secretary general also urged the foreign ministers of other Asean member countries to assist the two in settling their bilateral dispute amicably and as soon as possible, according to a statement carried by the official website of the Asean secretary general's office here on Saturday.
Surin, in a letter to Asean foreign ministers dated Friday, 6 November 2009, informed them that he had received many enquiries and expressions of concern from Asean's dialogue partners and friends over the apparent deterioration of relations between Cambodia and Thailand, as evidenced by the recalling of their ambassadors earlier this week.
Noting that the dispute could undermine the credibility of Asean, Surin said, "We in Asean cannot afford to be seen as being so seriously divided prior to the upcoming APEC Economic Leaders Meeting and the historic Asean-US Leaders Meeting in Singapore this month."
He pointed out that in line with the spirit of the Asean Charter and the Asean Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) of 1976, all Asean member states are obliged to offer assistance to fellow member states involved in a bilateral dispute, even when the two disputing parties cannot agree to refer their dispute to any regional means of dispute settlement.
Article 16 of the TAC in particular provides for other state parties to offer "all possible assistance" to help settle a bilateral dispute that could threaten regional stability and regional harmony," he said.
The said article, according to Pitsuwan further stipulates that "Parties to the dispute should be well disposed towards such offers of assistance".