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Military to meet over border row

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Top commanders will hold talks Thursday in Siem Reap

Photo by: Heng Chivoan

A mourner places incense sticks at a memorial ceremony in Phnom Penh Tuesday for the three Cambodian soldiers who died in last week's fighting on the border.

CAMBODIAN military commanders who will meet their Thai counterparts Thursday for high level talks on the border crisis have said that only increased dialogue will prevent a repeat of last week's deadly violence, as mourners in Phnom Penh commemorated the three troopers who died because of the fighting.

"The more we talk, the better the situation," said General Chea Morn, commander of Military Region 4, on Tuesday, calling for daily talks between the two sides.

Chea Morn, who will lead the Cambodian delegation to the meeting in Siem Reap, told the Post that the situation on the border has improved significantly since the shootout a week ago between Cambodian and Thai troops, who he said were now communicating with each other across the frontlines.

Neang Phat, secretary of state at the Defence Ministry, said Tuesday that Cambodia "does not want even one inch of Thai land", adding that it only wanted Thailand to respect the Kingdom's borders.

The two countries have been engaged in a standoff over disputed border territory since mid-July and, despite pledges not to inflame the situation, continue to reinforce their lines with more troops and weapons.

At Phnom Penh's Wat Botumwadei Tuesday, local artists and journalists organised a ceremony to "express our gratitude to the soldiers who sacrificed everything defending the nation", Neang Phat said. Two soldiers were killed in the fighting, while a third died the day after, reportedly from smoke inhalation.

"We bitterly regret the loss of our soldiers, and our sympathy goes to their families," Neang Phat said. "I hope the meeting [Thursday] will be fruitful because what we want is peace," he added.

Tensions flared in July after Preah Vihear temple, which is claimed by some Thais, was listed as a Unesco world monument.

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