>Troop Numbers Rise Along Thai Border


Soldiers from Thailand (L) walk past Cambodian soldiers near the Cekakiri Svarak pagoda of the Preah Vihaer temple, about 245 km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, July 17, 2008. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Thursday a border row with Thailand was “worsening” and urged the immediate withdrawal of Thai troops from the disputed ancient temple. A political uproar in Thailand over Cambodia’s listing of the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site has been stoked by groups seeking to oust Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej’s shaky ruling coalition.

16 July 2008

About 380 Cambodian troops have moved to the Thai border near Preah Vihear temple, officials said Wednesday.
About 380 Cambodian troops have moved to the Thai border near Preah Vihear temple, officials said Wednesday.

Cambodian and Thailand both have increased the number of troops along the border near Preah Vihear temple, but officials said Wednesday there was “no tension” between the two sides.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith told reporters that Cambodia had 380 soldiers near the border, where Thailand was keeping about 200 troops.

Cambodian authorities said Tuesday more than 40 Thai soldiers had crossed into Cambodian territory following the detention of three Thai demonstrators at Preah Vihear temple.

The temple, which perches on a high cliff in a disputed border zone, has been the focus of rising nationalist furor on both sides, following its inclusion on a Unesco World Heritage protection list earlier this month.

Long Sovann, deputy governor of Preah Vihear province, said Wednesday the situation was “normal” and both sides were “quiet.”

Keo Sen, Preah Vihear’s O’Chhouv district governor, said Wednesday Thai troops were digging positions along the border.

Meanwhile, the two countries are seeking to establish a committee to prevent further incidents, after Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej phoned Defense Minister Tea Banh, Khieu Kanharith said.

On Wednesday morning Prime Minister Hun Sen met with top government officials from the ministries of Defense, Interior and Foreign Affairs to resolve the issue.

Thailand has denied its troops entered Cambodian territory.

“It is true that we introduced a few paramilitary personnel into the border area within Thai territory [Tuesday],” Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat said in a statement. “But this is only to ensure that the current protests by a group of Thai people in the area, about their beliefs on territorial claims, be done in an orderly manner.”

Both sides have troops staying together in a pagoda near Preah Vihear temple, but there is no tension between them, Khieu Kanharith said.

Khieu Kanharith called on Cambodian citizens to remain calm over the issue and urged journalists to report “carefully” and “not pour gasoline onto the fire.”

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