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RCAF to halt deployments to Thai border

CAMBODIAN and Thai military commanders met for nearly two hours on Thursday to ensure that diplomatic tensions between the two countries do not boil over into conflict, military officials said.

Chea Tara, deputy commander for the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces in Preah Vihear province, said the two sides had agreed not to reinforce their positions at the border or redeploy troops beyond their current positions.

“We had a good result from the meeting, and agreed not to move or reinforce our troops in order to avoid conflict,” he said.

During a five-day border visit that concluded Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen repeatedly accused Thailand of encroaching on Cambodian territory, particularly in the area surrounding Preah Vihear temple.

If Thai troops fail to vacate this territory, including the Wat Keo Sekha Kirisvarak pagoda, Cambodia might be forced to evict them by military means, Hun Sen said Tuesday.

Despite the talks, Thai soldiers prevented Cambodian troops from approaching the pagoda on Thursday, Ministry of Defence spokesman Chhum Socheat said.

Thai troops near the border, he added, have been conducting military exercises in Thailand’s Surin province for the past month and a half, and informed their Cambodian counterparts of the exercises only last week.

Chhum Socheat said Cambodian officials had warned the Thais, whose exercises are taking place near Oddar Meanchey province’s Anlong Veng district, to make sure their artillery shells do not land in Cambodian territory.

In February of last year, six Thai shells fired during a similar military training exercise landed 2 kilometres inside Cambodian territory. No one was hurt, and Thailand later apologised for the incident. “We told our Thai counterparts that the shelling from the exercise must not land in Cambodian territory,” Chhum Socheat said.

“We will not tolerate their shelling this time.”

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