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Neighbours exchange accusation

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September 18, 2008

Thai-Cambodia Border Dispute:
Neighbours exchange accusation

Thailand and Cambodia swapped accusations of violating each other's territory on Wednesday in a simmering spat about disputed land near ancient temples along their border, reported AFP.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday accused Thai soldiers of being thieves "creating anarchy" around border areas, including at the ancient Ta Moan and Ta Kwai temples.

"We cannot accept this act," Hun Sen said, calling for fresh border talks with Thailand.

"I am wondering who ordered the troops to come over or whether they are thieves because they (the Thai government) said they did not order them. So it must mean they are thieves," the premier said.

The Thai foreign ministry in return issued a statement protesting that Cambodian soldiers had violated Thailand's sovereignty by periodically occupying Ta Kwai temple in August and September.

The statement called on the two countries to resolve their boundary issues in "a just and peaceful manner in accordance with international law."

Hun Sen has publicly hinted in recent weeks that he might take his boundary complaints to the UN Security Council or international courts if the neighbours cannot meet soon to resolve their border disagreement.

Much of their border remains in dispute, and demarcation has been held up by the slow pace of demining in the region.

Tensions flared in July after Preah Vihear was awarded world heritage status by the UN cultural body Unesco, angering nationalists in Thailand who still claim ownership of the ancient Khmer temple.

Those tensions turned into a military standoff that saw up to 1,000 Cambodian and Thai troops facing off for six weeks, until both sides agreed to pull back in mid-August.

Talks to discuss withdrawing troops from around Preah Vihear were postponed late last month amid political turmoil in Thailand.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the temple belongs to Cambodia, but surrounding land remains in dispute.

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