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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM scolds Thailand over border row

PM scolds Thailand over border row

Hun Sen raises stalled talks in meeting with Negroponte

PRIME Minister Hun Sen has blasted Thai authorities for allowing their soldiers to continue occupying Cambodian temple complexes along the border.

"I have told US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte that we currently have no channels of negotiation with Thailand," he told reporters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after a meeting late Monday with the visiting US official.

"Thailand continues to send soldiers to temples such as Ta Moan and Ta Krabey, or they are coming themselves to steal our land," he said.

Hun Sen said he would appeal to the UN Security Council to intervene before the conflict becomes violent.

Negroponte arrived in Cambodia on Sunday as part of a three-day visit to strengthen bilateral ties between the Kingdom and the US and to announce US$24 million in funding to strengthen economic development.

The US has also agreed to provide $1.8 million to support the cash-strapped Khmer Rouge tribunal.

Hun Sen acknowledged that Thailand's internal political conflicts have derailed negotiations to resolve the dispute, but said that it should not be used as an excuse to prolong the presence of Thai soldiers on disputed soil.

WE CONTINUE TO BE PATIENT...BUT THEY SHOULD HAVE LEFT OUR TERRITORY LONG AGO.

"We have told our Thai counterparts to maintain regular contact with us to resolve all remaining problems," he said.

Lieutenant General Chea Saran, a deputy infantry commander, said Thai forces have so far been blocked from infiltrating too far into Cambodian territory.

"We have endured the Thai soldiers' behaviour along the border, but we need peace," he said. "We continue to be patient to avoid bloodshed, but they should have left our territory long ago."

Thai and Cambodian military officials met on Monday at O'smach checkpoint to discuss the Ta Moan and Ta Krabey temples, an official at the Cambodian-Thai Relations office said Monday on condition of anonymity.

"We asked the Thai military commanders to withdraw all of their troops from the two temples and return to the deployment areas they occupied prior to July 15," he said.

"The Thai commanders agreed in principle but said they would inform their superiors," he said.

Chum Sambath, undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Defence, said Thailand's incursion showed a lack of respect for Cambodia.

"Why do they allow soldiers to take other people's property along the border? The Thai government should cooperate with us to remove them," he told the Post.

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