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Money row over border fight

Money row over border fight

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Cambodia, Thailand each demand compensation for damages

Photo by: Tracey Shelton

A Cambodian soldier stands at the site of a market that burned during the most recent flare-up of fighting at Preah Vihear.

Government officials warned Wednesday that while Cambodia continues to seek a peaceful resolution to its border dispute with Thailand, its patience will  run out, as both sides demand compensation over the latest bout of fighting.

"Our solution is very patient, but this is limited and one day when our patience is over, we will use another mechanism," said Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

On Monday the ministry sent a diplomatic note to Thailand demanding US$2.1 million in compensation for the destruction of a market near Preah Vihear temple that was destroyed when clashes broke out on April 3.

The government blames Thai rocket fire for the blaze, which destroyed 264 stalls.

Koy Kuong said the ministry has not yet received an official response from Thailand over its demands.

But a spokesman for the Thai Foreign Ministry told media on Tuesday that not only would Thailand refuse to pay, it would seek compensation from Cambodia over the deaths of three Thai soldiers.

"We have always clearly stated that area belongs to Thailand and that Cambodian soldiers illegally trespassed into our territory," Tharit Charungvat told AFP on Tuesday.

"We are working on the amount of compensation that we are seeking from Cambodia too, as our soldiers died," he added.

Koy Kuong downplayed the Thai spokesman's remarks, saying, "We do not consider the comment of the Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman as the stance of the Thai government because we have sent an official diplomatic note and they have not responded yet."

In its note to Bangkok, the government said the loss of the market was "causing great hardship and misery to 319 families who have lost their entire livelihood".

It added, "The Royal Government of Cambodia demands that the Royal Thai government take full responsibility."

Cambodia was awarded Preah Vihear temple in 1962, but Thailand is laying claim to 5 square kilometers next to it.

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