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Monday, October 12, 2009

Cambodia proposes Thai border talks at regional summit

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA - Cambodia on Monday proposed neighbouring Thailand puts their border dispute on the agenda when it hosts this month's summit of Southeast Asian leaders, according to a diplomatic letter.

The summit of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and six dialogue partners - China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand - takes place in the coastal resort of Hua Hin on October 23-25.

In a letter to his Thai counterpart Kasit Piromya, a copy of which was sent to AFP, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said the border dispute between the two countries should be included on the summit's agenda.

The move came after Kasit reportedly said last week he would seek approval at the meeting to establish a neutral organisation that would help settle the Thai-Cambodia dispute, which has sparked deadly skirmishes between troops.
"In this regard, I would like to propose that the dispute between Cambodia and Thailand in the area of the temple of Preah Vihear be included in the agenda of the ASEAN summit in Hua Hin," Hor Namhong said.

The focus of the border dispute has been an area of land around the 11th century Preah Vihear temple, where clashes have killed seven soldiers since nationalist tensions between the neighbours flared last year.

Cambodia and Thailand have been at loggerheads over the land around Preah Vihear for decades, but tensions spilled over into violence in July last year when the temple was granted UNESCO World Heritage status.

The World Court ruled in 1962 that it belonged to Cambodia.

Soldiers from Cambodia and Thailand continue to patrol the area, with the last gunbattle near the temple area in April leaving three people dead.

Cambodian premier Hun Sen last month said that he had ordered his troops to shoot anyone from neighbouring Thailand who crossed illegally on to land around Preah Vihear.

The border between the two countries has never been fully demarcated, in part because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia. --AFP

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