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Thai PM assigns armed forces chief to temple talks


July 19, 2008

Thai-Cambodia Temple Feud:
Thai PM assigns armed forces chief to temple talks

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej has assigned Thailand's Supreme Commander, the country's top armed forces officer, to head the Thai delegation to discuss the controversial issue of the Preah Vihear temple with Cambodia on Monday at the Thai-Cambodian border province of Sa Kaeo, a report from Thai News Agency said.

The premier stressed that the talks would be conducted within the framework of the good relations existing between the two countries.

The premier, the military top brass and related national security agency representatives discussed the Preah Vihear resolution at Government House on Friday.

According to Chief of the Royal Thai Army's Border Affairs Department Lt-Gen Nipat Thonglek, the prime minister assigned Supreme Commander Boonsang Niempradit to attend the Monday morning meeting.

"At today's meeting, Gen. Nipat said, "We discussed the direction of where Thailand would stand which was in line with what we have agreed on under the framework to maintain good relations of both countries."

Thailand Hote

The Prime Minister have informed Tea Banh, Cambodia's Defence Minister that it's a good opportunity to clarify things. A joint press conference will be held after the meeting, he said.

Gen Nipat emphasised that the situation along the Thai-Cambodian border was under control, adding that Army Chief Anupong Paojinda stressed his understanding that the attempt to solve the conflict has integrated both countries cooperation.

The meeting took place after the tensions between the countries escalated with the Thai anti-government protestors clashing with local villagers in Si Sa Ket on Thursday.

Reports from the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse said the standoff nearly erupted into violence, with witnesses saying troops on both sides of the disputed border twice leveling their guns at each other for 10 minutes.

Cambodian soldiers were guarding the pagoda compound to protect food supplies for monks on the premises. However, the situation is now stable after the troops from both countries held lower-level talks for an hour.

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