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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cambodia informs compatriots about Thai encroachment of its territory

Cambodian military police patrol Preah Vihear temple, 245 km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, July 21, 2008. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Cambodia Informs Compatriots About Thai Encroachment of Its Territory

PHNOM PENH, July 22 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia has spoken more seriously about its border dispute with Thailand, as its foreign ministry issued a letter Tuesday to its compatriots to tell about the Thai occupation of its territory and the ensuing Thai military threat.

"On July 15 2008, the armed forces of Thailand encroached on Cambodian territory in the vicinity of the Preah Vihear Temple," said the letter dated Monday and made public Tuesday morning.

"Thailand has violated the international boundary of the two countries which had been delineated since 1908 by the Mixed Commission composed of representatives from Siam (now called Thailand) and a delegation of the Protectorate Power (namely France) representing Cambodia at that time," said the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in the letter addressed to all the kingdom's compatriots.

"To date, the diplomatic efforts of the Royal Government of Cambodia to persuade Thailand to withdraw its troops and return to the status quo prior to July 15 2008 have been to no avail," it said.

"The negotiations were not successful because Thailand insisted on using a map drawn unilaterally, thus violating Cambodia's territory," it said.

Therefore, the ministry decided to "request for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to find a solution to the problem in accordance with international law," it added.

Hor Namhong, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, is currently meeting with the ambassadors from the five permanent member countries of the UN Security Council and will hold a press conference before Tuesday noon to make clear Cambodia's latest reaction to the dispute.

Earlier Monday, he asked Singapore, the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to rally the foreign ministers of Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and Laos, to find a way to help ease the tension at the Cambodian-Thai border.

"Thai troops with artillery and tanks are building up along the border, constituting a very serious threat not only to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cambodia, but also to peace and stability in the region," he told ASEAN in a letter.

Also Monday in Thailand, bilateral top-level talks failed to produce any consensus in regard with the military standoff near their border.

Last Tuesday, three Thai protesters trespassed the border to reclaim the temple, but were immediately arrested. Thai troops then came in to fetch them, thus triggering face-off with Cambodian soldiers there. Bilateral military build-up occurred dayby day. Currently, the troops there are widely estimated at thousands.

In 1962, the International Court of Justice awarded the 11th century classic Khmer-style Preah Vihear Temple, together with the land it occupies, to Cambodia. The decision has rankled the Thais ever since.

The temple straddles the Thai-Cambodian border atop the DangrekMountain and was listed as a World Heritage Site on July 7 by the UNESCO's World Heritage Committee.


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