Cambodian, Thai troops pull back from 2nd temple

August 6, 2008 at 3:23 am Leave a comment

August 06, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) – Tension at a second border temple that is claimed by both Thailand and Cambodia has eased after troops of the two countries pulled back from the site, Cambodian officials said Wednesday.

Agreement for a troop withdrawal from the grounds of the 13th century Ta Moan Thom temple was reached during a meeting between officials from the two countries late Tuesday, said Maj. Ho Bunthy, a Cambodian army commander in the area.

The sanctuary is located several hundred miles (kilometers) west of Preah Vihear temple, where Cambodian and Thai soldiers have been locked in a standoff for three weeks in a dispute over nearby territory.

Thailand sent troops to the border area after UNESCO approved Cambodia’s application to have the temple complex named a World Heritage Site. Some Thai officials say the temple’s new status will jeopardize their country’s claims to land adjacent to the site.

About 800 troops from Cambodia and 400 from Thailand remain in the Preah Vihear area despite a tentative agreement reached by foreign ministers last week to redeploy them in an effort to ease tensions.

Officials met to mediate the latest dispute in the Cambodian border town of O’Smach in Oddar Meanchey province, about 290 miles northwest of the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, Ho Bunthy said.

«Now the situation has eased at the temple. There is no more armed confrontation» between the two sides’ soldiers, said Cambodian Maj. Sim Sokha, a deputy commander of an army border unit in the area.

He said the 70 Thai and 50 Cambodian soldiers, who faced off at the temple, are now back in their respective camps about 330 yards (300 meters) from the temple.

He said the temple is now opened to tourists from both countries.

The dispute surrounding Ta Moan Thom started when Cambodian officials said some 70 Thai soldiers started occupying the temple site last week and prevented Cambodian troops from entering. Thai military officials countered that their troops had been in the area for years.

Thai army commander Gen. Anupong Paojindasaid said Tuesday the temple is within «Thai territory.

Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh, however, said the temple «is clearly under our sovereignty, and we have to demand it back.

Ta Moan Thom temple was built in the 13th century as a rest house along a road linking the ancient city of Angkor with what is currently northeastern Thailand, said Chuch Phoeun of the Cambodian Ministry of Culture.

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Entry filed under: Preah Vihear Issue. Tags: , .

Thailand, Cambodia cool temple dispute Note on the Preah Vihear issues – A document in Khmer

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