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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thai PM: Negotiations to Resolve Border Problem with Cambodia

Thai PM: Negotiations to Resolve Border Problem with Cambodia

BANGKOK, Oct 14 (TNA) - Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat reaffirmed Tuesday that Thailand "will hold negotiations and not use any force" in a bid to end the ongoing border dispute with its neighbour Cambodia.

Speaking to a press conference after holding a meeting with commanders of the three armed forces and senior security officers, Mr. Somchai said the Thai military will stand guard inside Thai territory while negotiations aimed at finding a peaceful solution will be held next week.

A working level meeting is scheduled to be held Wednesday while the military of both countries have agreed to convene a special meeting of the Regional Border Committee next Tuesday.

The planned meetings were urgently arranged after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen reportedly spoke to the media, shortly after ending his meeting with visiting Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat in Phnom Penh on Monday that Thai troops must be withdrawn from the disputed border area near the ancient Preah Vihear temple immediately or risk a large-scale armed conflict.

To date, Thai forces are now posted in Thai territory and "peace" still prevails in the disputed area, said Mr. Somchai, also defence minister, adding that the two neighbouring countries are "still good friends".

Meanwhile, commanders of the Thai three armed forces held a special meeting chaired by military commander Gen. Songkitti Jaggabatara and unanimously agreed that Thai soldiers would continue to patrol disputed area around the Preah Vihear temple because the ownership of the area is not yet settled, according to Army spokesman Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd.

Relations between the two countries, both members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, flared up in July after the 11th century temple which belongs to Cambodia was awarded heritage status by the UNESCO.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the Preah Vihear temple belongs to Cambodia, but the 4.6 square kilometre area adjacent to the temple remains at issue between the two countries.

Stressing that the Thai military is now ready for armed confrontation to protect Thai sovereignty, Col. Sansern said the army has already coordinated with other armed forces to evacuate Thais living in Cambodia and bring them home in case the situation gets out of control.

Col. Sansern noted that problem on the disputed area has continued for a long time but has become worsen only recently and this is probably because Cambodia wants to brings the issue to the international level. (TNA)

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