Cambodia firm on temple, people offer to help troops

August 13th, 2008 - 11:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Phnom Penh, Aug 13 (DPA) Cambodian journalists Wednesday announced they would answer a call for aid from soldiers stationed at a remote northern temple complex and travel there to distribute supplies. A group of journalists, including the privately owned Cambodian Television Network, said they would visit the Ta Moan temples in the north of the country soon to deliver food and other essentials to troops near the site that is disputed by Thailand.

Cambodia’s ill-equipped army has been heavily supported by various groups nationwide in its hurried stand against alleged Thai incursions, including journalists and social activists, politicians and prominent members of society since the temple standoffs started last month.

Senior officials from Oddar Meanchey province, home to the Ta Moan Thom temples, appealed for assistance for soldiers and the police this week to maintain their vigil.

The Cambodian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that the temple complex was “indisputably inside Cambodian territory”.

“We deny any demand that contravenes Cambodia’s legal rights,” the foreign ministry said.

Thai soldiers have reportedly denied Cambodians access to the Ta Moan temples since July 28.

Cambodia won Unesco World Heritage listing for the Preah Vihear temple ruins - 150 km east of Ta Moan - July 7 against Thailand’s wishes. Thai troops then moved into territory claimed by Cambodia, but Thailand insists this has not been legally decided.

Later that month, Thai troops allegedly blocked Cambodian access to the Ta Moan group of temples, also on the 800-km border, which is disputed at many points.

Cambodia says it hopes the issue can be resolved “peacefully and lawfully” at scheduled a bilateral meeting between foreign ministers in the Thai province of Prachuap Kiri Khan next Monday.

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