FM expresses hope that negotiations will resolve crisis
CAMBODIAN and Thai military commanders have pledged to avoid violence along the border despite the limited progress made by their governments, whose talks on disputed areas of the frontier have been stalled for more than a month.
"We signed an agreement not to use military force along the border in the provinces in Cambodia controlled by Military Region 5 and the provinces in Thailand controlled by its Military Region 1," regional deputy military commander Ek Sam On told the Post by phone Sunday.
Military Region 5 covers Pursat, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces, as well as Pailin municipality - areas that saw heavy fighting throughout much of the 1980s and 1990s.
"We have to avoid armed confrontation. If we have any problem, we will raise the issue and solve it by exchanging information," Ek Sam On said.
He said that during a meeting in Thailand last Wednesday and Thursday with his counterparts, the only objection he raised was against a recent incident in which Thai soldiers confronted Cambodian troops stationed at O'Plok Damrey in Pursat province and demanded they remove the border fence there and withdraw.
"I informed them about this because we want to prevent small confrontations from spreading into larger conflicts," Ek Sam On said.
Otherwise, calm has returned to the border regions occupied by soldiers, according to officers stationed at the major flashpoints, Preah Vihear, Anlong Veng and Ta Krabey.
Bilateral talks again
Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said Friday that Cambodia would continue to engage in bilateral talks following the formation of a new government in Thailand.
"I hope we get back to meeting soon and resolve the border dispute through peaceful bilateral talks before we have to take the issue to the international court," Hor Namhong told reporters last week in Phnom Penh.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY VONG SOKHENG