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Temple troop pullback ខែកក្កដា 29, 2008

Posted by សុភ័ក្ត្រ in News.
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Siem Reap – Cambodia and Thailand agreed in 12 hours of tense talking on Monday to pull back 1,200 troops stationed near Preah Vihear temple, but failed to end the long-running border dispute.

The foreign ministers of both nations made a joint announcement.

“It was a successful meeting,” Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told a press conference, saying discussions between the ministers were cordial. “We are not angry, not speaking force, but trying to solve the problem peacefully.

“We have agreed to establish a task force and report our governments in preparation to recall troops around the temple. When exactly this will happen the two sides did not establish.

“This agreement should be without prejudice against the rights of both sides,” he said, but declined to comment on which of the disputed border maps, of which more than one exists over the last century and is at the heart of the conflict, would be accepted.

Thailand earlier said troop withdrawals must be equal and reports said troops buildups continued even during the meeting.

Hor Namhong said more discussions were needed over the borders.

He asked that questions be directed to him only in Khmer during the press conference and newly appointed Thai Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag said little, but did pledge to report on the meeting with the Thai cabinet on his return home, expected Tuesday.

Earlier, a senior Cambodian diplomatic source said neither side had achieved their desired objectives during the meeting.

“Cambodia is not happy. Neither side is happy,” the Cambodian diplomat said. “On the Thai side, the new foreign minister has not enough capacity to talk with the veteran Cambodian Foreign Minister.”

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong has held the post for decades. A seasoned diplomat, he is not known for giving ground.

Shortly after the Preah Vihear temple was made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO this month, Thailand moved troops into what it calls a disputed area that Cambodia maintains is its territory.

The 11th-century temple is sacred to Thais and Cambodians but only easily accessible from Thailand and Thailand had objected to the temple’s listing despite a 1962 International Court ruling that it was Cambodian. Cambodia closed the border in June after Thai rallies.

Both sides have said they would not back down on the issue, which has voter nationalism running high.

Cambodia held national elections Sunday, returning the current government with an increased majority, but the Thai government of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej remains under pressure.

The Cambodians have said they will stick to diplomatic channels to solve the problem and the next step will be mediation at the United Nations if bilateral talks fail. A total alcohol ban is in force around the temple to ensure calm.

In 2003 an angry mob torched the Thai embassy and some businesses over a false rumour that a Thai actress had claimed another temple, Angkor Wat, was Thai, but Cambodian officials have said they are determined that such a diplomatic disaster will not be repeated.

Earlier report:

Siem Reap – Discussions over the ancient Preah Vihear temple stalled on Monday afternoon, Cambodian delegates said, adding that the prognosis for a bilateral solution was not good.

A senior Cambodian official who spoke on condition of anonymity claimed part of the problem for his side was the inexperience of the newly appointed Thai Foreign Minister Tej Bunnang.

“Cambodia is not happy. Neither side is happy,” the Cambodian diplomat said. “On the Thai side, the new foreign minister has not enough capacity to talk with the veteran Cambodian Foreign Minister.”

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong has held the post for decades. A seasoned diplomat, he is not known for giving ground.

The two sides of six delegates moved into a third phase of talks late Monday, hours after they had been scheduled to end.

Shortly after the Preah Vihear temple was made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO this month, Thailand moved troops into what it calls a disputed area that Cambodia maintains is its territory.

The 11th-century temple is sacred to Thais and Cambodians but only easily accessible from Thailand. Cambodia closed the border in June, saying it feared trouble after Thai protests.

Both sides have said they would not back down on the issue, which has voter nationalism running high.

Cambodia held national elections Sunday, returning the current government with an increased majority, but the Thai government of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej remains under pressure.

Meanwhile troops in Preah Vihear, around 300 kilometres from the capital, were increasingly restless and a troop buildup continued.

“I am former Khmer Rouge. I am not used to sitting around. I am used to attacking my enemy,” said Khun Sarath, 57. “I am ready to fight the Thai invader as soon as the government gives the word.”

The Cambodians have said the word will not come and the next step will be mediation at the United Nations if bilateral talks fail. A total alcohol ban is in force around the temple to curb the enthusiasm of fighters like Sarath.

In 2003 an angry mob torched the Thai embassy and some businesses over a false rumour that a Thai actress had claimed another temple, Angkor Wat, was Thai, and Cambodian officials have said they are determined that such a diplomatic disaster will not be repeated.

Earlier report:

No progress was reported on Monday from bilateral talks on the flashpoint Preah Vihear temple despite the presence of new Thai Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag, reports from Siem Reap say.

Foreign ministers from the two Southeast Asian nations expressed optimism that their talks would produce a breakthrough in the dispute.

But midway through the talks Monday in Siem Reap, the mood was tense and progress remained elusive, officials said.

“We have discussed many points but we have not reached a solution yet,” Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters.

ប្រភព៖ http://www.bangkokpost.com/topstories/topstories.php?id=129123

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