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Thai letter apologises for breach of airspace

THE commander of Thailand's Chanthaburi-Trat airbase has written a letter of apology to the Cambodian government for repeated Thai violations of Cambodian airspace in Pailin province last week.

General Bun Seng, commander of Cambodian Military Region 5, told the Post that in a letter dated Friday, the Thai commander, whom he did not name, apologised for the repeated incursions of Thai aircraft, some flying as far as 30 kilometres into Cambodian territory.

The letter explained that Thai jets were monitoring forests in Thai territory but strayed into Cambodian territory when bad weather caused the planes' navigation systems to malfunction.

"We accepted the letter of apology by the Thai military ... but we have warned Thailand's airbase that we will not take responsibility for a second repeated airspace violation," he said.

"We have air defence systems to fight against aircraft."

He said that Thai military jets were often reported to have strayed into Cambodian airspace, but that the incursions had often taken place over disputed borders.

"This is the first time they have flown so far into Cambodian territory," he added.

Koy Kuong, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said he accepted the apology but seconded Bun Seng's warning that Cambodia reserved the right to defend its borders against foreign incursions.

"If they violate Cambodian airspace a second time, it will be dangerous, and the Cambodian government will utilise its right to defend its airspace and sovereignty," he said.

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