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Saturday, March 05, 2011

Cambodia takes attaches to disputed area

The Thai government is outraged by a visit from foreign attaches to the disputed border areas in Cambodia, an army source says.

But the source said: "If we open fire, this will play into the hands of Cambodia and it will show the world that we started the fight."

Cambodian troops have taken foreign military attaches on a visit to Preah Vihear temple and the surrounding disputed border area in what is seen by Thailand as a violation of an agreement made in 2000 between the two countries governing the disputed border site.

The army source said Cambodian troops yesterday led a group of military attaches from 12 countries from Phnom Penh to visit the temple.

The military attaches came from the US, France, Russia, China, Japan, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, Burma, Vietnam and Laos.

The source said they were visible to Thai troops through binoculars on the other side of the border on the mountaintop of Pha Mo I Daeng.

"The Suranaree task force has written to the Cambodian side protesting against the move, which violates an agreement governing the 4.6-square-kilometre disputed area also claimed by Thailand," the source said.

"Their visit did not have permission from Thailand."

The source said Cambodia claimed it had a plan to take the military attaches to visit Cambodia's Viharn province to inspect disputed border areas on Thursday and Friday.

The areas included Keo Sikha Kiri Savara pagoda sitting in the disputed area near the 11th century Hindu temple, as well as other surrounding disputed areas claimed by Cambodia.

The source said the military attaches could be seen visiting Preah Vihear temple.

The source said the move by the Cambodian side was an act of defiance and could only reignite border tensions.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday the government was "trying every means" to secure freedom for Thai Patriots Network co-ordinator Veera Somkwamkid and his secretary Ratree Pipatanapaiboon.

A Cambodian court on Feb 1 convicted the two to eight and six years in jail respectively for spying and illegal entry into Cambodian territory.

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