PRIME Minister Hun Sen said yesterday that tensions with Thailand in the aftermath of a war of words between the two countries last week would not erupt into hostilities along the border.
“Don’t worry about war happening at the border – it’s impossible,” Hun Sen said during an address at a graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh.
“Of course Thailand has an obligation to defend its territory and we have an obligation to defend ours, but our military commanders have met and shared lunch together to ease the tension.”
Although both sides declared victory following the annual meeting of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation World Heritage Committee in Brazil last week, the body did little to settle the long-running acrimony between Thailand and Cambodia over their undemarcated border near Preah Vihear temple.
During the meeting, Cambodia submitted a management plan for Preah Vihear temple, which the WHC declared a World Heritage site for Cambodia in 2008.
Discussion of this document, however, was deferred until the committee’s meeting next year in Bahrain.
Earlier this week, Royal Thai Army deputy spokesman Veerachon Sukondhadhpatipak denied rumours circulated by Cambodian forces at the border that Thai commanders had reinforced their positions near the temple. Thai troops, Veerachon said, had been ordered not to act “provocatively”.
Yim Phim, commander of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Brigade 8, stationed at the border in Preah Vihear province, said his forces were on alert for renewed protests near the temple by Thailand’s nationalist People’s Alliance for Democracy, also known as the Yellow Shirts.
“We are ready to stop them from entering our territory. If they dare to do so, we will welcome them with our weapons as Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered,” Yim Phim said.
Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn could not be reached for comment.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEBASTIAN STRANGIO