>Border moves halted, pending Monday talks


Thai soldiers on a truck head to reinforce colleagues at a camp along the Thai-Cambodian border July 19, 2008. Thailand and Cambodia sent troops and heavy guns on Saturday to their disputed border, where hundreds of soldiers faced off for a fifth day over an ancient Hindu temple.

REUTERS/Nopporn Wong-Anan

Thailand and Cambodia agreed to temporary suspend all armed forces movements along the Thai-Cambodian border at Si Sa Ket province which is adjacent to Cambodia’s Preah Vihear province of Cambodia, and Thailand’s Second Army Area Command is on round-the-clock alert, according to a senior Thai military official.

The Second Army Area Command is responsible for overseeing the northeastern provinces which includes Si Sa Ket.

Meanwhile, Pol.Lt-Gen. Vichienchot Sukchokrat, a Thai government spokesman, said he was informed by Don Pramudwinai, Thailand’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations that Cambodia has asked for UN help in dealing with the border dispute.

The content of the Cambodian petition is not known to the Thai govenment, and Thailand is awaiting the details, he said.

Gen. Vichienchot said the pressure by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) earlier this week forced Cambodia to ask for help from the United Nations.

He added that Thailand’s image was tarnished from the dispute, so he appealed to the PAD and other groups to stop their movement.

Thai News Agency reporters on the scene at Si Sa ket said that both sides of the border in the vicinity of the 11th century temple are quite tense after the two countries built up their armed forces along the border.

Second Army Area Deputy Commander Maj-Gen.Weewalit Jornsamrit said he was assigned by Second Army Area Commander Lt-Gen. Sujit Sitthiprapa to inspect the area and discuss the situation with Cambodia’s Preah Vihear province deputy governor.

He said after meeting with Cambodian authorities 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 Thai-Cambodian General Border Committee (GBC) meetng to be held in Sa Kaeo province on Monday.

Thailand’s Supreme Commander Gen. Boonsang Niempradit would lead Thai delegates to meet Cambodian Defence Minister Gen. Tea Banh.

Gen.Weewalit said the situation at other Thai provinces bordering Cambodia was normal.

Meanwhile, Gen. Sujit said he has ordered military officers under his command to be on alert for 24 hours as Cambodian troops had built up their troop numbers at Preah Vihear temple border side.

He believed that the GBC border meeting could find a joint solution to ease the tension.

The military standoff between Cambodia and Thailand entered its fifth day Saturday after the tension build up after UNESCO approved Cambodia’s application to list Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site.

Thai activists fear the new status will undermine Thailand’s claim to nearby land since the border has never been properly demarcated. (TNA)

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