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Monday, June 01, 2009

Thai military officer denies invading border area with Cambodia

BANGKOK, June 1 (Xinhua) -- Thai senior military officer confirmed on Sunday that the situation at the Thai-Cambodian border was normal, denying the report that a hill near Preah Vihear temple, a border area under dispute, was seized by Thai troops, Thai media reported Monday.

According to Monday's Bangkok Post, Second Army chief Wibulsak Neepal denied some Cambodian media's report that Thai troops invaded the area near Hill 600, adding that soldiers had only been patrolling the area as usual in order to guard the Thai territory.

He also insisted that Thailand was strictly following regulations and was well within the parameters of the agreement regarding border conflicts.

Cambodia's media alleged that Thai soldiers have taken over the area at Hill 600, approximately 7 km east of the ancient temple, which caused the deployment of Cambodian troops one km away from the hill.

Wibulsak stated that there might be a misunderstanding by Cambodia's journalists, which could lead to potential clashes. Both Thai and Cambodian commanders remained in contact, he added.

The deployment of Cambodian troops nearby has prompted speculation of a new bout of border clashes, said Bangkok Post.

The latest border conflicts between the two countries broke out on April 3 when soldiers of the two sides clashed twice near the Preah Vihear temple, leaving two Thai and two Cambodian soldiers dead and nine Thai soldiers injured.

Thailand and Cambodia had earlier conducted a few rounds of negotiations which involved the military and foreign ministries from the two sides to solve the border dispute regarding areas around the temple, a UNESCO world heritage site.

The international court ruled the temple belonged to Cambodia more than 40 years ago. But border dispute over areas around the temple has remained a fuse in the two countries' relationship.

The Thai-Cambodian border has never been fully demarcated, in part because the border is littered with landmines left during the wars.
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China, Cambodia vow to further party-to-party relations

BEIJING, June 1 (Xinhua) -- China said Monday it is ready to further exchanges with Cambodia's Funcinpec Party based on the principles of being independent and equal, mutual respect, and non-interference in each other's internal affairs.

"Party-to-party exchanges are an important channel to enhance our comprehensive and cooperative partnership," Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping told Funcinpec Party chairman Keo Puth Rasmey in Beijing.

Xi also expressed appreciation for the support of the Funcinpec Party on issues concerning China's core interests.

Xi said the two countries had maintained frequent high-level exchanges and cooperation in all areas was fruitful.

"China would like to be a Cambodia's everlasting good neighbor, friend, brother and partner," he said.

Liu Qi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), met with Rasmey earlier Monday.

Liu, also secretary of the CPC Beijing Municipal Committee, told the delegation that to promote Sino-Cambodian friendly relations was in the fundamental interests of both nations.

China would work with Cambodia to push forward the comprehensive and cooperative partnership, Liu said.

Rasmey said the Funcinpec Party firmly adhered to the one-China policy, and would increase exchanges and cooperation with the CPC in a bid to advance Cambodia-China ties.

The delegation is in China at the invitation of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee. Wang Jiarui, head of the department, met with them separately.
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Cambodia considers night hours for Angkor Wat

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia—Cambodia is considering opening the famed Angkor Wat temples at night to draw more tourists to the impoverished country, an official at the archaeological site said.
Similar night tourism efforts have been introduced at other sites in Southeast Asia.

Cambodia already has installed some lights at the network of centuries-old temples, said Bun Narith, who leads the agency responsible for managing the Angkor park.

Tourism is a major foreign currency earner for cash-strapped Cambodia. More than a million foreign tourists are expected to visit this year, with most from South Korea, Japan and the United States. More than half of tourists visit the Angkor temples, by far the country's biggest draw.

Visitors are now ushered out of Angkor at sunset, but authorities are considering extending visiting hours to as late as 8:30 p.m. local time.

"We want tourists to see all views of the temple, even in the dark places where they may have not have seen some of the sculptures and statues," Bun Narith said.

But conservationists have long expressed concerns about tourism's impact on Angkor. They say the uncontrolled pumping of underground water to meet the rising demand of hotels and residents in the nearby town of Siem Reap may be destabilizing the earth beneath the temples.

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