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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thai talks limited to troops: PM

Thai talks limited to troops: PM

PRIME Minister Hun Sen on Thursday announced plans to hold unofficial talks with Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban  and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan on Saturday, but said they would be limited to discussions of Thai troop withdrawals.

"I will only welcome an explanation about the withdrawal of Thai soldiers out of Cambodia's territory," Hun Sen said in a speech at a graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh, adding that the World Heritage status of Preah Vihear temple would not be on the agenda.

"I would like to reaffirm in principle Cambodia's position not to accept an explanation by Suthep Thausuban over the Preah Vihear issue," he said.

On Wednesday UNESCO rejected Thai demands to place the Preah Vihear issue on the agenda of the World Heritage Committee's annual meeting in Seville, Spain.

Giovanni Boccardi, chief of UNESCO's East Asia and Pacific Unit, said the Preah Vihear issue would not be raised because the meeting would "strictly" adhere to an agenda already in place.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said Thai attempts to put the temple on the agenda one year after its World Heritage inscription were improper.

"Thailand's aim was dismissed, but the Thais still continue, and we don't know when they will stop," he told reporters Thursday at the Foreign Ministry.

Hun Sen said Cambodia was willing to risk conflict over the issue and ordered soldiers at the border to protect the country against Thai incursions.

Srey Doek, commander of RCAF Division 3, said Thursday that the situation at  the border was normal but that troops were on alert.

"We have raised Thai troop withdrawals with the Thai military commanders many times but have received no positive response," he said.

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