Thai troops still at Ta Muen Thom, general says

August 7, 2008 at 1:33 am Leave a comment

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation
Published on August 7, 2008

Thai troops remain at the disputed border area near Ta Muen Thom temple, despite a claim by a senior Cambodian official they had withdrawn.

“We are stationed at Prasart Ta Muen Thom to protect our sovereignty as usual,” said Major Gen Kanok Netrakavaesana, commander of the Suranaree Task Force, who oversees the area. He spoke by phone from Surin late yesterday. 

Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh told reporters in Phnom Penh earlier that both sides agreed to withdraw troops from the temple after a brief talks involving commanders on the ground. 

“But we have already resolved the problem with each other. It is okay now. All (Cambodian and Thai) troops withdrew to their original bases,” he was quoted saying. 

Tea Banh, however, maintained that Ta Muen Thom belonged to Cambodia. 

Kanok said the Cambodian minister had misunderstood the situation. Officials from both sides met on Tuesday at the “coordinating point” at the border and later returned to the temple, as usual, without any agreement. 

“The situation is calm, nothing changes and we are where we are,” the Thai commander said.

Attention has turned to a second disputed temple area, following the military stand-off near Preah Vihear temple, some 120 kilometres away. The latest row surrounds Khmer ruins at Ta Muen Thom. 

Cambodia has alleged that Thailand sent some 70 troops to the temple and barring Cambodian soldiers from entering. Cambodia then massed troops in the area nearby. Phnom Penh has called on Thailand to pull its troops out. 

Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat said that Ta Muen temples was on Thai soil and that Thai troops had been stationed there for years. 

Cambodia “might misunderstand” the location of the temple, he said, because the old boundary mark demarcated a century ago had disappeared. 

Thailand lodged an official protest in March this year after Cambodia listed Ta Muen one of its sites, Tharit said. 

The new dispute could be settled by a bilateral mechanism such as the Joint Border Committee, he said.

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

Thai and Cambodian foreign ministers to meet over border row Video: Border dispute – 06.08.2008

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