ASEAN chair cancels trip to meet Thai FM

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BANGKOK, April 25 – Indonesia’s foreign minister Marty Natalegawa, current chair of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), has cancelled his planned visit to Thailand without giving any reason, said Chavanond Intarakomalyasut, secretary to the Thai Foreign Minister.

Mr Natalegawa was earlier scheduled to meet Thai foreign minister Kasit Piromya on Monday evening, but the trip to Thailand was cancelled and no new schedule has been made, Mr Chavanond disclosed on Monday.

The Indonesian foreign minister was earlier expected to meet with both his Thai and Cambodian counterparts to push for a renewed ceasefire following the collapse of the United Nations-backed peace arrangement he helped bring about after fierce fighting in February.

The renewed border clashes between Thai and Cambodian soldiers occurred on Friday morning with sporadic exchange of gunfire. The latest skirmish took place Sunday night and another soldier was killed on each side.

However, it is believed Thai foreign minister and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong will be able to discuss the border dispute on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in the beginning of May in Indonesia.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon earlier called for a “serious dialogue” to produce an authentic ceasefire and end the grenade and artillery duels that have resulted in the death of at least 11 soldiers from both sides over the weekend.

One more Thai soldier was killed in a border skirmish Sunday night in Thailand’s northeastern province of Surin, raising to five the death roll of Thai military in the skirmishing which began Friday.