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Thais set to discuss dispute: minister

THAILAND'S newly-appointed top diplomat plans to visit Cambodia to discuss the long-running dispute over territory along the countries' shared border, Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong said Tuesday.

 Hor Namhong said he spoke by phone to Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, who said he is willing to continue negotiations towards a peaceful solution to the border issue. "The day before yesterday [December 28], he called me and we extended wishes for the New Year to each other," Hor Namhong said.  

Tempers flared on the border after the Preah Vihear temple was listed as a Unesco World Heritage site in early July, angering Thai nationalists who demanded that the then-government reclaim territory allegedly lost to Cambodia, including the 11th-century ruins.

 Hor Namhong said political turmoil in Thailand, which has seen two prime ministers toppled this year alone, have slowed negotiations, leading to an escalation of border tensions that erupted in clashes between Thai and Cambodian soldiers in October.

"[But] I can say that the military clash is old news.... So, we have to wait and be patient until Thailand's internal issues are resolved," Hor Namhong said.

Cambodia and Thailand have never fully demarcated the 805-kilometre shared border, though Cambodia's top negotiator, Var Kimhong, told the Post Sunday that Cambodia and Thailand would resume border talks in late January.

Meas Yoeun, deputy military commander at Preah Vihear, said that the situation along the frontier is stable and that Cambodian troops are undergoing further training. "All institutions have to strengthen our forces," he said.  

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