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Border row to be raised at Asean

Border row to be raised at Asean

CAMBODIA'S border dispute with Thailand will be the focus of talks between Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart on the sidelines of next month's Asean summit, the premier said Tuesday, warning that the protracted military standoff over disputed territory should not be allowed to affect tourism and trade.

The issue, however, is not on the agenda of the wider Asean  talks and likely will not be raised by bloc members when they convene in Hua Hin, Thailand, on February 27, Hun Sen said.

He said that Cambodia will try to limit the effects of the conflict with Thailand, and expand cooperation with all neighbouring countries.

"The dispute is in one place [Preah Vihear], so we should not expand it along our shared border," he said, adding that the dispute should not be allowed "to affect tourism, trade and the economy".

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

Cambodia and Thailand have never fully demarcated the 805-kilometre shared border.

"Cambodia has no intention to take Thai territory and will continue to be patient in resolving the issue bilaterally," Hun Sen said.

His meeting with the new Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva will be the first between the two leaders.

"We have thanked friends from the other countries of Asean who have paid attention to the border dispute with Thailand," Hun Sen said, speaking at the opening of Oddar Meanchey provincial hall near the Thai border.

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya plans to arrive Sunday in Cambodia for further talks on the border issue, which sparked the largest recent buildup of soldiers and military equipment on the countries' shared frontier. The dispute turned violent in October in a shootout that left four dead.

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