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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Crisis talks follow border clash

Crisis talks follow border clash

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090406_01.jpg

Thai delegation meets with Prime Minister Hun Sen ahead of summit, officials say.

Photo by:
AFP/TANG CHHIN SOTHY

Cambodian soldiers man a heavy machine gun near Preah Vihear temple on Sunday.

A DELEGATION of high-ranking Thai officials met Sunday with Prime Minister Hun Sen to discuss Friday's armed clash  near Preah Vihear temple that killed at least three Thai soldiers, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan told the Post. 

Phay Siphan said Thai officials requested the unofficial meeting, which came in advance of two days of border negotiations set to begin today.

Those talks were scheduled before Friday's fighting, which marked the worst outbreak of violence in the nearly nine-month standoff over disputed border territory.  

Phay Siphan said he could not provide details about where the meeting occurred, which officials attended or which specific points were discussed.

Kamrob Palawatwichai, first secretary at the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh, said he had received no information about the meeting.

Also Sunday, military officials from both sides met over lunch in disputed territory near the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple. After that meeting, RCAF Division 3 commander Srey Doek said, "I asked the Thai leaders not to let their troops go into the disputed area, and they agreed that they would stay out."

Thai army Major Apichat Poupouk said, "We don't need fighting.... We have no problem. Now the commanders are talking to solve the confusion."

Upcoming talks

Var Kimhong, Cambodia's top border negotiator, told the Post Sunday that he and his Thai counterpart would meet today and Tuesday in Phnom Penh for border talks, noting that there had been no change to the scheduled meeting in light of the recent violence.

 

Koy Kuong, an undersecretary of state and spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, told the Post Sunday that both countries remained committed to resolving the border dispute peacefully.

Cambodia and Thailand have never fully demarcated their 805-kilometre shared border.

Koy Kuong said the discussion would centre on points raised during previous rounds of border talks in Siem Reap and Bangkok.

"They will resume discussions on two unsigned agreements - one made in Siem Reap and the other in Bangkok," he said. "They will discuss demarcation and demining, and they will especially discuss having Preah Vihear cleared of soldiers."   

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the border issue would come up when he meets with Hun Sen at a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its regional partners in Thailand next week, which was supposed to focus on the global economic slowdown.

"It is sad for those who lost their lives. We will speed up the return of the situation to normal and resume the talking process as soon as possible," Abhisit said in his weekly television broadcast.

In a letter dated Saturday and sent to its Cambodian counterpart, Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the outbreak of violence "took place within Thai territory" and called the actions of Cambodian troops "a serious violation of the Kingdom of Thailand's sovereignty and territorial integrity".

In a visit Saturday with disabled veterans in Kampot province, Hun Sen said the violence occurred only after Thai soldiers tried to enter disputed territory. 

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY THET SAMBATH AND AFP

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