Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Waiting game




Waiting game

Waiting game

Vandy Rattana

Cambodian soldiers walk past razor wire that has been laid near Preah Vihear temple as a military standoff with Thailand continues.

Talks between Thai and Cambodian military leaders to end the standoff at Preah Vihear have deadlocked after the Thai side insisted on recognizing a different border between the two countries, Cambodian negotiators said.

The failure to reach a solution has forced Cambodia to seek an intervention from its regional neighbors, the foreign ministry said Tuesday, a day after military leaders walked away empty-handed from the negotiating table.

Thousands of troops and equipment, including heavy artillery, from both sides have been deployed to the border in the largest military build-up in years following last week's alleged incursion into Cambodia by Thai soldiers.

An area of 4.8 square kilometers around the temple remains in dispute after the World Court ruled in 1962 that Preah Vihear belongs to Cambodia.

The issue escalated following Preah Vihear's July 7 listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej's government coming under fire for supporting Cambodia's World Heritage bid amid accusations that Thailand's leaders were ceding territory to Cambodia.

Bangkok maintains that its troops are occupying Thai territory located a short distance from the 11th-century temple – a claim that has repeatedly been rejected by Cambodia.

"At first, everything in the meeting was going very well. But at the end, it failed because the Thai side raised the issue of its right to use its own map," said Bun Seng, commander of Cambodian Military Region 5, who attended the eight-hour talks Monday in the Thai-Cambodian border town of Aranyaprathet.

"We have different ideas on this point. We use the map drawn by France in 1904 and 1907, but the Thai side wants to use its own map. It's completely different," he told the Post on Tuesday.

"That is why when they raised the issue of the map, everything failed. I am very disappointed," he added.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith also confirmed that the talks had ended without resolution, but said that both sides agreed that the standoff would not escalate into armed conflict.

Cambodia's government called Tuesday on its regional neighbors to intervene in the issue, asking Asean chair Singapore to form an "inter-ministerial group" to mediate a solution to end the standoff, according to a statement from the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Asean leader had earlier urged both sides to exercise restraint as they continued to deploy troops to the area.

In Preah Vihear, the failure of the countries' military leader to resolve the crisis came as no surprise to many troops on the ground.

"I'm not surprised there has not been an agreement since so much has happened already," Vou Vinak, a 26 year-old Cambodian soldier, told the Post Monday night along what has become a de facto frontline near the temple.

Coils of razor wire have been laid in parts of the temple compound, while heavily armed Thai and Cambodian soldiers from who have gathered near a Buddhist pagoda that is claimed by both sides continued to eye each other warily.

"I'm very frustrated. I've been made to leave my family. Thailand made this problem by invading, so they should fix it," said another soldier, Sim Nara.

Bun Seng said talks are expected to continue, but nothing has yet been scheduled.

"We have tried hard for success, but then the Thai side made it [the meeting] fail. We will have further negotiations, but we do not know when," he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Body of woman killed in Bangkok returns

    The Cambodian embassy in Thailand is working to repatriate the body of a casino dealer who was shot dead in Bangkok on Monday night. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Kuy Kuong told The Post on Wednesday that officials are preparing paperwork to

  • Chikungunya hits 15 provinces, says gov’t

    Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said on Thursday that the chikungunya outbreak in the Kingdom has spread to 15 provinces. Some 1,700 people are now suspected to have the disease. Vandine urged people to prevent its further spread by eliminating shelters for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

  • Gov’t exempts visa A and B holders from Covid fees

    Airline passengers who are diplomats and officials of international organisations holding Type A and B visas for travel to Cambodia are exempted from paying Covid-19 testing fees, said the Ministry of Health in its latest adjustment of rules on Wednesday. Health Minister Mam Bun Heng

  • Bill covering dress code draws ire

    Ministry of Interior secretary of state Ouk Kim Lek responded on Tuesday to criticism concerning a draft law that would ban women from wearing overly revealing clothing, saying that input from all parties will be considered as the law moves through the promulgation process. Several

  • Passing the test: Is Cambodia’s education system failing its people?

    The Kingdom’s education system needs to grow its people but some flaws might stifle​ this growth Coming from the Khmer Rouge occupation, with the loss of many scholars and academicians and a collapsed government, the education system had to be reconstructed from scratch – one

  • What’s the deal with Cambodia and China’s FTA?

    Cambodia’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China kicks off a series of FTAs in future but for now, critics wonder what else the parties could bring to the table apart from what it already has to date By the end of this year, Cambodia