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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Small gains made in crisis talks over border violence

Small gains made in crisis talks over border violence

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Generals agree to measures they hope will keep the peace in disputed

areas  after Wednesday's fighting; Cambodia says it has released 13

captured Thais

PREAH VIHEAR

Photo by: AFP

Cambodian General Chea Morn (left) listens to his Thai counterpart

Vibonsak Niphan (right) during a meeting near Preah Vihear temple on

Thursday.

CAMBODIAN military commanders agreed

Thursday to release 13 Thai troops captured during fighting near Preah

Vihear the day before in talks on the border with their Thai

counterparts.

The two sides also said they would not increase troop numbers along the

disputed frontier, where growing tensions over territory claimed by

both flared Wednesday in a clash that killed at least two Cambodians.

A third Cambodian soldier died overnight, apparently from inhaling the

exhaust from his B-40 rocket launcher, military officers said.

"The result of the meeting was good. It did a lot to reduce the problem

here," said General Chea Morn, commander for Military Region 4, who

attended the talks.

Troops on the front line woke to a tense calm following the worst

outbreak of violence since the military standoff at border flash points

began in July.

Standing amid tattered tent covers and bullet-pocked tree trunks,

Cambodian soldier Nuth Dara described how Thai soldiers dropped their

weapons and fled Wednesday's eruption of rocket- and gunfire.

"We should not allow them to come back and collect their weapons," he

said, adding that the two sides, who had been camping together for

weeks, had never wanted to fight each other.

"We all hope the top leaders of government find a solution as soon as possible to end this problem," he said.

Military leaders from both sides held separate talks Thursday in Thailand, agreeing to introduce joint border patrols.

"We will introduce the joint patrol to avoid this kind of incident

happening again," said Lieutenant General Wiboonsak Neeparn, Thailand's

northeastern army commander.

But Wiboonsak said little headway was made on withdrawing troops from a

number of disputed border areas. "The meeting has not made much

progress, but the two sides agreed to stay where they are," he said,

adding that Thailand had no plans to remove any of its heavy weaponry

along the border.

Wiboonsak said senior military officials would meet Tuesday in Siem Reap, but cautioned that more fighting was possible.

"Thailand keeps our promise, but if Cambodia does not it may happen again." he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP

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