By: The Nation
Asean's chief Surin Pitsuwan on Tuesday insisted that media reports quoting him over a military exercise in Cambodia were taken totally out of context. His comments were with specific reference to the prevailing situation along the Cambodian-Thai border and not to any particular military exercise in Cambodia.
Cambodia had conducted a military exercise on March 4 during which Khmer troops tested equipment and fired some 200 rockets at an airfield 180 kilometres from the Thai border.
Malaysia's Bernama news agency recently quoted Surin as saying that "Cambodia might have signaled as though the region was unstable" by firing rockets last week during a border dispute with Thailand.
Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen lambasted on Monday that Surin was unsuitable for the job, accusing him of "crazy work" for reportedly questioning a recent rocket drill.
In his statement issued on Tuesday, Surin said, "The question directed at me was of a general nature, and my responses were with specific reference to the prevailing situation along the Cambodian-Thai border which I have expressed on many occasions before to all Asean Foreign Ministers and to the Asean leaders.
Surin added that his concerns on the border situation had been publicly expressed on numerous occasions and were a routine response to media enquires. He stressed that no other media, foreign or Thai, had reported on his statements made following the Bangkok conference.
Expressing his deep regret that the issue has caused much misunderstanding and discomfort and had "a very unfortunate and unwarranted effect", Surin said.
He insisted he had no intention nor was he referring to any particular military exercise in Cambodia which he had no knowledge of at that point in time.