Thai PM says Cambodian troops must leave border to solve dispute

May 8th, 2011 - 11:53 pm ICT by BNO News  

JAKARTA, INDONESIA (BNO NEWS) — Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Sunday said the border conflict cannot be solved if Cambodian troops remain at the ancient Preah Vihear temple, MCOT Online reported.

“I think the problem lies in Cambodia’s refusal to withdraw its troops from the disputed area around Preah Vihear temple,” Vejjajiva said.

Prime Minister Vejjajiva held talks with his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta on the sidelines of the two-day summit of 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The one-hour meeting, also attended by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the host of the ASEAN summit, ended without progress, as both ministers are meeting again on Monday.

Prime Minister Vejjajiva said Cambodia’s Hun Sen wants Thailand to sign an agreement allowing Indonesian observers to be posted at the disputed border area before bilateral talks could start. He added that Cambodia wants to ask the International Court of Justice for “temporary protection” of the Preah Vihear temple by demanding the withdrawal of Thai troops.

Both Cambodia and Thailand claim the 4.6 square kilometer area near the ancient Preah Vihear temple on their shared border, which has never been formally established. Cambodia requested Indonesian observers to mediate in the conflict but Thailand denied.

Tensions first escalated between the two countries in July 2008 following the build-up of military forces near the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple. The United Nations Security Council urged both sides to establish a permanent ceasefire after at least 10 people were killed.

Clashes resumed in February as both nations claim the lands surrounding the ancient Hindu Temple, which has been damaged due to the conflict. The Preah Vihear temple dates back to the 11th century and is located on the Cambodian side of the border.

In 2008, it was inscribed on the World Heritage List in recognition of its outstanding universal value. It is considered an outstanding example of Khmer architecture and consists of a complex of sanctuaries linked by pavements and staircases on an 800-meter-long axis.

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