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[Thai] Army won't send more troops to temple area [... or so it claims]

Written By vibykhmer on Monday, April 6, 2009 | 6:31 PM

Forces will be rotated, tensions ease after talks


The army will not be deploying more troops in the disputed border area in and around the Preah Vihear temple despite the clashes last week with Cambodia, Second Army commander Wiboonsak Neepal says.

Lt Gen Wiboonsak yesterday said instead of pouring in reinforcements, the army would rotate its forces to bring in fresh legs.

The rotation is necessary if morale and confidence is to be boosted in the area which was the scene of last week's clashes.

Tensions look to have eased after talks on Sunday between Suranaree Task Force commander Kanok Netrakawesan and Maj Gen Srey Doek, head of Cambodia's military division 3.

The two generals arm wrestled after their talks to ease tensions between the two armies.

Maj Gen Kanok said the two countries had no plan to withdraw their troops from the area, so the possibility of future confrontation could never be ruled out.

Nothing could be taken for granted no matter how disciplined the soldiers, he said.

Two Thai troops and two Cambodians were killed in the fighting on Friday. Another 10 Thai troops were injured, one seriously. The clashes took place in a 4.6 sq km area claimed by the two sides.

Thailand claims the area is in Kantharalak district of Si Sa Ket, while Cambodia insists it is in Preah Vihear province.

Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon will hold talks with his Cambodian counterpart Tea Banh aimed at preventing more clashes at the general border committee meeting in Siem Reap on April 27-28, an army source said.

The two neighbours have also started joint boundary commission talks in Phnom Penh aimed at resolving competing claims surrounding the Preah Vihear temple.

"The incidents that have happened show that the border issue needs to be resolved very quickly in order to avoid more incidents," Var Kim Hong told reporters before the talks.

Var Kim Hong co-chairs the committee with Thailand's Vasin Teravechyan.

The last meeting of the JBC ended in February with the two sides failing to reach an agreement on any of the key points, including the spelling of Preah Vihear in official documents.

Cambodia insists on using Preah Vihear while Thailand wants to refer to it as both Preah Vihear and Phra Viharn.

The World Court in 1962 gave ownership of the ruins of the Hindu temple to Cambodia, but tensions flared last July when the cliff-top structure was awarded United Nations World Heritage status.


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