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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Preah Vihear market money row not part of border talks: official

Preah Vihear market money row not part of border talks: official

Government seeks to keep two issues separate

CAMBODIAN officials said Thursday that a row over compensation for damages inflicted during border clashes with Thailand last month should not be part of the larger negotiations on the disputed territory between the two countries.

"We are just demanding compensation from the Thais for damage caused to the property of Cambodian citizens," Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said, referring to a US$2.1 million claim made by the government on Monday for the destruction of 264 market stalls near Preah Vihear temple during the fighting.

Talks over the border have lurched along with no clear resolution in sight, as both sides wrangle over a few square kilometres of ground amid a massive military buildup on both sides of the frontier.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong told the Post Wednesday that Cambodia's patience would eventually run out, but Thailand's Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya was quoted by the Bangkok-based daily newspaper The Nation on the same day as rejecting Cambodia's demands for money.

"We have to understand it was a military clash, and there are rules of engagement for the fighting. We have already made clear the buildings are in Thai territory," Kasit said.

Koy Kuong declined to comment on Kasit's remarks Thursday, saying that Cambodian officials were still waiting for an official response. "It is their right to refuse our demand, but we want to know what reasons they have," he said.

Phay Siphan disputed Kasit's assertion that the damaged buildings were in Thai territory.

"They have no reason to say that the area is in Thai territory, because the International Court of Justice already judged that Preah Vihear temple belongs to Cambodia, and the market is part of the temple."

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