Thai-Cambodia border meeting starts

By Xinhua,

Bangkok : A special meeting of Thai-Cambodia General Border Committee (GBC) to defuse conflicts over disputed border area of Preah Vihear Temple started in Thailand’s Sa Kaew Province on Monday.

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Thai side is represented by Supreme Commander Gen. Boonsang Niempradit while the Cambodian side by Defense Minister Gen. Tea Banh.

Earlier, Weewalit Jornsamrit, Second Army Area Deputy Commander of Thailand, said that both sides agreed to suspend military movements that may cause further tension, but the military officials would remain stationed at strategic points pending the result of the GBC meeting.

On Monday, Boonsang declined to give comments to reporters prior to his departure for the talks.

Despite commitment to a peaceful resolution of the standoff, Thailand now has some 1,500 military personnel and border patrol police officers, reinforcing security on roads in Soi Dao and PongNam Ron districts, bordering Cambodia, the state-run Thai News Agency reported.

Police checkpoints were also set up to conduct search on vehicles passing through the area, while more troops were in place at border passes around the clock.

Boonsang was assigned by Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to lead the Thai delegation to Monday’s GBC meeting.

Boonsang said earlier he could not say whether the Thai troops stationed near Preah Vihear will be withdrawn as requested by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen last week in a diplomatic note sent to his Thai counterpart.

“It is better to wait for the outcome of the meeting first,” Boonsang said, noting that “the Thai military will not employ violence to solve this problem.”

Instead, the military would use peaceful means in solving the border crisis, he said.

The military standoff between Cambodia and Thailand entered into its seventh day on Monday. Both countries historically laid claim to the 11th century temple, which now sits on Cambodian soil following the action of the International Court of Justice which awarded the ancient temple to Cambodia in 1962.

However, the temple can practicably only be accessed from Thailand. The exact demarcation of the border around the ruins remains in contention.

The security situation around the temple deteriorated after three Thais, including a Buddhist monk, were briefly detained by Cambodian soldiers after surreptitiously crossing into the disputed border area on Tuesday. The trio were released the same day but refused to leave the 4.6 square kilometers disputed area adjoining the temple complex.

Thailand first issued a warning that travel to the vicinity of the temple be avoided, but later closed off access altogether within 10 km of the temple.