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Thai business 'waiting for fall of Pailin'

Thai business 'waiting for fall of Pailin'

THAI military spokesmen have predicted that both Pailin and Preah Vihear temple

will change hands in the near future. Pailin is currently controlled by the

Royal Government Army after a successful assault last month.

The

spokesmen said it was likely that Pailin would be recaptured by the hands of the

Khmer Rouge soon after the start of the rainy season. The officers, who declined

to be named, said that they were expressing private opinions.

"Thai

business is waiting for Pailin to fall. They are not going to negotiate with the

Cambodian government, because they know that they will get a better price from

the Khmer Rouge. They will just wait for Pailin to fall again," a senior officer

from the Supreme Command in Bangkok said.

In addition, the Thai military

disputed the Royal Government's claim that Anlong Veng had been taken for a

second time this year. "Anlong Veng is controlled by the KR," the spokesman

said.

Historic Preah Vihear temple fell to the Khmer Rouge last

July.

The Thai spokesman confirmed that the Royal Government is laying

seige to the base of the 600-meter cliff on which the Preah Vihear temple sits

and said the KR defenders could not hold on much longer. The RCAF has shelled

the temple and some rounds landed in Thai territory, the military spokesman

said.

He spoke during a press trip organized by the Thai government

intended to show that links with the KR had been severed and a logging ban was

being enforced.

Reporters had the opportunity to overlook the border

crossing near the temple known to Cambodians as Am See and as CT-1 during the

Untac mandate.

The only military activity obvious to the press corps was

a few innoccous rounds fired in their general direction by Khmer Rouge

guerrillas.

A Thai Colonel quipped: "It's just their way of saying

hello."

Despite denying at many points that they had contact with the

Khmer Rouge, another officer, who declined to be named, gave a detailed

description of the KR's tactical situation at Preah Vihear.

He said that

perhaps 100 KR fighters held the temple and the base of the cliff, but Cambodian

government soldiers have been able to surround it partially.

"The Khmer

Rouge have routes off of the cliff face to the south and the south-west," the

officer said.

"But they cannot easily be resupplied, and the government

should be able to retake the cliff."

He declined to specify a timetable.

"It depends on how badly the government wants it, and the relative military

strength at the temple," he said.

Though the temple belongs to Cambodia,

the only easy access is from the Thai side and in more peaceful times it is a

big tourist attraction.

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