>Boonsang: Only military-related issues to be discussed at border meeting

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BANGKOK, July 19 (TNA) – Thailand’s Supreme Commander Gen. Boonsang Niempradit said Saturday he would confer only on militarily-related issues with Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh when they meet early next week.

Gen. Boonsang has been assigned by Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to lead the Thai delegation to Monday’s session of the Thai-Cambodian General Border Committee (GBC) at Sa Kaeo on the Thai-Cambodian border to discuss issues concerning the Preah Vihear temple situation with Cambodia.

The talks will be held as troop movements from both countries are raising the level of armed readiness on both sides of the border in the vicinity of the 11th century temple which was awarded World Heritage site status by UNESCO earlier this month.

Speaking on a Bangkok radio station, Gen. Boonsang said he could not yet say whether the Thai troops stationing near Preah Vihear will be withdrawn as requested by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, in a diplomatic note sent to his Thai counterpart.

“It is better to wait for the outcome of the meeting first,” Gen. 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.

Gen. Boonsang said he had spoken with Gen. Teah Banh, calling for military commanders of both sides to order soldiers at the border to show restraint.

Both countries have claimed sovereignty over a 4.6 square kilometres area adjacent to the temple.

The Thai foreign ministry will be responsible in negotiations regarding the disputed zone and not the military because it is a “sensitive issue”, Gen. Boonsang added.

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