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Cambodia seeks UN help in border stand-off


July 20, 2008

Thai-Cambodia Temple Feud:
Cambodia seeks UN help in border stand-off

Cambodia has asked the United Nations to intervene in its border dispute with Thailand, AFP quoted a Thai official as saying Saturday, the fifth day of a tense stand-off between the neighbours.

Meanwhile, Asean Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan on Saturday called for maximum restraint amid a tense standoff on disputed land near an ancient temple between Cambodia and Thailand.

The tensions between the two Asean neighbours come as foreign ministers of the Southeast Asian grouping prepare to meet in Singapore.

Ahead of a joint meeting between the militaries from both sides on Monday, Dr Surin is calling for the matter to be settled amicably.

He said: "I think the ministers may wish to address the issue in a way of trying to encourage early resolution, maximum restraint in order to avoid any repercussion on the image of the organisation."

Thailand Hote
More than 600 Thai troops and well over 1,000 Cambodian soldiers are stationed around a small Buddhist pagoda on the slope of a mountain leading to the ruins of an ancient temple at the centre of the territorial dispute.

"The Thai ambassador to the UN has reported to the Thai government that Cambodia has filed a complaint with the UN over the dispute between Thailand and Cambodia," Thai government spokesman Wichianchote Sukchotrat told AFP.

He said Cambodia wanted the UN to intervene and the Thai government would study the complaint before sending a letter to UN officials.

Military commanders from both sides said they were seeking to calm the soldiers to ensure that violence does not erupt ahead of peace talks planned for Monday.

The confrontation began when three Thai protesters illegally broke across on Tuesday vowing to reclaim the Preah Vihear temple, which they say rightly belongs to them.

US, Chinese, French and Vietnamese embassy staff flew to the disputed territory on Saturday, adding to diplomatic pressure to end the confrontation. They toured the area and took photographs but did not speak to either side and declined to talk to reporters.

The mood among Cambodians worsened Friday evening when they got word of a letter from Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen saying the addition of Cambodian troops had caused the situation to "deteriorate".

The World Court in 1962 determined the Preah Vihear ruins belong to Cambodia, even though the most accessible entrance lies in Thailand.

The issue has taken on national importance in both countries.

Cambodia is preparing for general elections on July 27, while Thailand has recently been rattled by anti-government protests, driven in part over the handling of the land dispute.

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