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Thai says Cambodia using ‘guerrilla tactics’ in temple dispute ខែកក្កដា 24, 2008

Posted by សុភ័ក្ត្រ in News.

BANGKOK: The Thai ambassador to the United Nations accused Cambodia on Wednesday of employing diplomatic “guerrilla tactics” in a dispute over an ancient temple to try to redraw the countries’ 800-kilometer border.

The ambassador, Don Pramudwinai, said the Cambodians were using a century-old map of the disputed temple, drawn up when Cambodia was a French colony, in a broader plan to gain more territory.

“Sometimes our sincere friendship has prompted us to overlook our neighbors’ ultimate motive,” the ambassador told a Thai radio station, speaking from New York, where Cambodia has asked the UN Security Council to help resolve the dispute.

“In this case they are using guerrilla tactics to ambush us,” he said. About 4.6 square kilometers, or 1.8 square miles, of land around the temple form one of 16 sites along the border that involve overlapping territorial claims between the two nations.

Hundreds of Thai and Cambodian soldiers remained camped at the 900-year-old temple, perched high on an escarpment in the Dangrek Mountains, which form part of the border. On Tuesday, the Cambodian foreign minister, Hor Namhong, said international mediation was needed because the two nations were in an “imminent state of war.”

Sovereignty over the 11th-century temple, Preah Vihear, has been in dispute since the withdrawal of the French in the 1950s. Although it is easily accessible only from the Thai side, the International Court of Justice awarded sovereignty over the temple to Cambodia in 1962.

Despite the ambassador’s rhetorical escalation, the usually blunt-spoken Thai prime minister, Samak Sundaravej, played down the dispute on Wednesday, predicting tensions would ease after the general election in Cambodia on Sunday.

“After the elections they will soften their stance, and talks will be easier,” he said. “Everything has been done for the July 27 poll, and I need to keep quiet so as not to discredit Prime Minister Hun Sen” of Cambodia.

The two sides met on Monday but failed to resolve the dispute, which began earlier this month when Unesco listed the temple as a World Heritage Site based on an application from Cambodia and using the map supplied by Cambodia.

Both nations were at a meeting Wednesday in Singapore of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, where diplomats from neighboring nations urged them to find a peaceful solution.

But in both nations the continuing standoff was inflaming nationalist feelings that have flared into localized violence in the past. Opposition politicians in both countries are accusing their governments of being soft in their dealings over the temple.

Despite Samak’s words, it is his own government that is under the greater stress from its opposition, for whom the temple is the latest issue in a long-running campaign that has already caused the resignation of a cabinet minister.

These critics accuse the government of selling out Thai heritage to further business interests of the former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a coup in 2006 but whose supporters now control the government.

The National Counter Corruption Commission has begun to investigate Samak and his cabinet over accusations that the government violated the Thai Constitution by supporting Cambodia’s application for a World Heritage listing without consulting Parliament. In principle, the investigation could lead to the impeachment of the entire government

ប្រភព៖ http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/07/23/asia/cambo.php



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