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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thais at fault in fatal border shooting: govt

Thais at fault in fatal border shooting: govt

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Cambodia's top border negotiator says before the talks that last week's violence occurred because ‘Thais did not respect international law'.

Photo by:
SOVANN PHILONG

Cambodia's top border negotiator, Var Kimhong, speaks to reporters after bilateral talks on Monday.  

TALKS over disputed territory between Cambodia and Thailand opened Monday with the Kingdom's chief border official, Var Kimhong, blaming Thai soldiers for last week's clashes that marked the worst violence yet during a nearly nine-month standoff over land around Preah Vihear temple.

"The Thais have to understand international law," Var Kimhong said before the two days of discussions that, although scheduled before Friday's fighting, are likely to be dominated by the bloody shootout that left at least three Thai troops dead.

"I would like to say that the accident last week occurred because the Thais did not respect international law," Var Kimhong said, adding that one of the aims of the talks was to reach agreement on redeploying soldiers away from a pagoda near Preah Vihear temple that has been a flashpoint for conflict in the past.

"We have to resolve the border dispute soon in order to avoid another incident like the one that occurred last week," he said.

Heavy fighting broke out twice on Friday after RCAF troops said the Thai military crossed into Cambodia's Veal Antri, or Eagle Field, a section of the border where fighting also broke out last October.

Elsewhere on the Cambodian side of the border, a market burned to the ground after taking small arms and rocket fire, witnesses said.

The clashes also damaged the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple, which was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in July, just before Thai troops first occupied what Cambodia claims is its territory around the monument.

On the agenda

Var Kimhong said the agenda for this week's meeting of the Joint Border Commission had been set before Friday's clashes.

A draft agenda distributed before the meeting Monday showed that officials would discuss the minutes from the February commission meeting in Bangkok, plans for fact-finding missions to determine the condition and location of boundary markers and a "draft provisional agreement" to move soldiers away from the area near Preah Vihear temple.

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