Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen warns Thais against air incursions near disputed temple

Hun Sen warns Thais against air incursions near disputed temple

Hun Sen warns Thais against air incursions near disputed temple

PM also says that in the event of war, Thailand will need up to 50,000 troops to subdue 10,000 of the Kingdom's own battle-hardened soldiers.

PRIME Minister Hun Sen sounded a belligerent note during informal talks with Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon on Saturday, warning that if Thailand violates Cambodian airspace along the border Cambodia has the right to shoot down Thai aircraft, the premier said Tuesday.

"I told the Thai deputy prime minister and minister of defence frankly to be careful about not flying across the border into Cambodian territory," Hun Sen told an audience of new graduates at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh on Tuesday.

"I am afraid that I won't be able to control the shooting if the ground soldiers lose patience."

Hun Sen said he also told Suthep and Prawit that, if full-blown hostilities break out between the two countries, Bangkok would need to mobilise between 30,000 and 50,000 soldiers to match 10,000 of the battle-hardened troops stationed at the disputed Preah Vihear temple. He said that Cambodia did not want confrontation, but that Thailand must not violate the the country's territorial sovereignty.

"We are waiting to shoot because we are not invading [Thailand]. Cambodia is not showing muscle, but to defend the nation we will play it until the end," Hun Sen said.

Meanwhile, the situation on the border remains tense, with officers of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) saying they are ready to counter any Thai incursions.

"The situation at the front line is increasingly tense since I learned that Thai soldiers are scheduled for military exercises along the Thai-Cambodia border near Koh Kong province to Anses of Preah Vihear Temple on July 3," said Seoun San, an RCAF captain based at Veal Sambokhmum.

"If the rockets launched from the military exercises fall into Cambodian territory, we will open the fight without discussions."

Officials at the Thai embassy could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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