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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thai troops leave Cambodia border

Thai Troops Leave Cambodia Border

(Asia Pacific News)Thai soldiers have pulled back from a disputed stretch of the border with Cambodia near an ancient temple after Cambodia's leader threatened Thailand with "armed clashes".

General Chea Mon of the Cambodian army, said on Tuesday that Thai troops had "pulled out from our land" shortly before the expiry of a noon deadline set by Hun Sen, the Cambodian prime minister.

After meeting Thailand's foreign minister on Monday, Hun Sen had said "armed clashes" would erupt if Thai troops continued to "trespass" over the border.

"We told them that if they do not stop [trespassing], armed clashes will break out," Hun Sen told reporters, warning that the area could become "a life-and-death battleground".

Disputed area

Hun Sen's meeting with Sompong Amornwiwat, Thailand's foreign minister, was the latest effort to ease tensions over a territorial dispute that earlier this month sparked a brief exchange of gunfire at the border that injured one Cambodian and two Thai soldiers.

Both countries have long claimed Preah Vihear, but the World Court awarded it to Cambodia in 1962.

Sovereignty over some of the land around the temple, however, has not been clearly resolved.

Tensions flared in July when the UN accepted Cambodia's submission to name Preah Vihear a World Heritage site, with both countries deploying troops to the border.

There has been a limited troop withdrawal from the area since, and talks have been held several times to resolve the conflicting claims, but without much progress.

In a statement issued after Monday's meeting, Cambodia's foreign ministry called for more talks to "avoid further unwarranted hostilities".

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