21 July 2008
Cochrane report – Listen (MP3)
Top-level talks between Thailand and Cambodia have failed to resolve a dispute over who owns an ancient temple. The talks were called after Thai soldiers entered Cambodia and troops from both countries gathered along the disputed border. Liam Cochrane reports from Preah Viheah temple on the Cambodian-Thai border.
The Defense Ministers of Cambodian and Thailand met Monday at a border town away from the disputed temple site.
They spoke for eight hours, but the discussion ended without a solution to the dispute or a schedule for further talks.
The Director General of the National Authority for Preah Viheah, Professor Hang Soth says the two sides had different ideas on how to resolve the standoff, but said the Cambodian government was committed to finding a non-violent solution.
“No matter how long it takes, Cambodian government still calm, still use any new way to find peace, never want to make the conflict and no want to have fighting with each other,” he said.
|Cambodian soldiers stand guard at Preah Vihear temple near Thai border in Preah Vihear province, 17 Jul 2008|
At Preah Viheah temple, Cambodian and Thai soldiers chatted and posed for photographs together in an atmosphere that was mostly friendly.
But both sides have hundreds of well-armed troops and heavy machine guns in place in case fighting does break out.
Thailand sent troops to the border after anti-government demonstrators attacked Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej’s government for supporting Cambodia’s request to designate the temple a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Thai protesters say the temple’s new status will undermine their country’s claim to land around the site.