Latest border talks make ‘steamroller’ progress

August 25, 2008 at 1:49 am Leave a comment

The Phnom Penh Post – Thursday, 21 August 2008 Written by Cheang Sokha and Brendan Brady   
 

Cambodian, Thai foreign ministers agree to meet again over Preah Vihear standoff as negotiations over territorial dispute once again grind to a halt

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Foreign Minister Hor Namhong speaks with reporters after returning Wednesday from Preah Vihear crisis talks. (HENG CHIVOAN)

CAMBODIA and Thailand have agreed to another round of talks over disputed territory near Preah Vihear temple, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said Wednesday, after negotiations this week made only limited progress towards resolving the military standoff on the border.

“The negotiations on Preah Vihear are like a steamroller, they are slow but moving ahead,” Hor Namhong told reporters after returning from two days of talks with his Thai counterpart, Tej Bunnag, in Thailand.

He said another round of talks will be held later in the year after both sides meet in October to discuss border demarcation around the 11th-century temple, which was listed in July at a UNESCO World Heritage Site, sparking outrage from Thai nationalists claiming the ruins belong to Thailand.

Hundreds of Cambodian and Thai soldiers withdrew from their positions around the temple last week ahead of the talks, greatly easing tensions that had climbed steadily since July 15, when Thai troops first crossed the border.

The incursion sparked one of the largest military build-ups in recent years, as both sides sent thousands of troops and equipment, including heavy artillery, to the frontier, raising fears that fighting would erupt.

Hor Namhong said that both sides agreed that armed conflict was not the way to solve the border row.

“In this era, resolving the problem through the use of military force is out of date,” Hor Namhong said, adding that Cambodia would consider re-opening the international border crossing at Preah Vihear, which has been sealed since the crisis began last month, “after tensions ease and the situation becomes normal”.

He reaffirmed, however, Cambodia’s ownership over two more disputed border temples, Ta Moan Thom and Ta Moan Touch, that were also occupied by Thai soldiers during the last month.

“I think the issue of Ta Moan temple will also be solved step-by-step like the Preah Vihear temple case,” he added.

Hor Namhong said Cambodian and Thai military officials would meet August 29 in Siem Reap for further discussions on reducing troop numbers at border flashpoints. Since the weekend redeployment, only a handful of soldiers remain at Preah Vihear.

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

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