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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thailand Increasing Presence on Cambodia Border

Thailand Increasing Presence on Cambodia Border

By SE Asia correspondent Karen Percy and wires

Thailand is moving additional troops and weapons closer to a disputed border area with Cambodia.

Earlier, Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen issued an ultimatum for the Thais to leave the area or face attack.

When the deadline had passed Cambodia claimed the Thai soldiers withdrew, while the Thais denied that.

A regional army commander in Thailand has told the local media that the military is increasing its presence near the Preah Vihear temple but would not specify how many soldiers, nor what type of armaments are being mobilised.

Both sides have had several thousands troops on stand-by since a border flare up in July.

Thailand's new Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat held a lengthy meeting with military leaders and told reporters that they will do what is needed to protect Thailand's sovereignty.

He emphasised that Thailand would not attack first.

The area has been the centre of a decades long dispute between the two countries.

At the heart of the dispute is 4.6 square kilometres of scrub near the temple, which the International Court of Justice awarded to Cambodia in 1962, a ruling that has rankled many in Thailand ever since.

Tensions have been high since July, when around 1,000 soldiers on both sides faced off only yards apart in trenches dug into a hillside that until 10 years ago was under the control of remnants of the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot's guerrilla army.

- ABC/Reuters

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