>UN Security Council to discuss Thai-Cambodia dispute: ambassador


BANGKOK (AFP) — The UN Security Counil is expected to discuss a tense military standoff between Cambodia and Thailand this week, Thailand’s ambassador to the United Nations said Wednesday.

Don Pramudwinai said the Security Council meeting on Thursday was set to discuss the week-long issue involving troops from both countries facing off near an ancient temple on their border.

“I have been informed that the UN has included Preah Vihear (temple) on the emergency agenda to be discussed at the Security Council meeting tomorrow (Thursday),” he told reporters here.

The comments follow a call from the Cambodian government on Tuesday for the world body to help broker a solution to the standoff.

Two days of diplomacy between the countries failed to make any headway in the controversy centred on disputed land around the ruins of the 11th century Hindu temple overlooking Cambodia’s jungle.

More than 500 Thai troops are facing off against at least 1,000 Cambodian soldiers over the small patch of land near the temple, that belongs to Cambodia but has sparked decades of tensions with Thailand.

Thailand’s chief negotiator to the crisis called for a leaders’ summit, saying an existing General Border Committee (GBC) of officials from the two countries would not be enough to solve the problem.

“It’s unlikely that the conflict could be settled at the GBC meeting,” he told reporters.

“At this stage I think it’s rather the leaders who must hold a summit as they are the decision makers,” Boonsrang said, adding that Thai troops had been ordered to remain peaceful.

Thailand and Cambodia both claim their soldiers remain on their own soil, stationed by a small Buddhist pagoda at the foot of the mountain leading to the Preah Vihear temple.

Boonsrang also said there was now urgent need for Thailand to appoint a new foreign minister to tackle the dispute after Noppadon Pattama resigned in a legal battle two weeks ago.

The dispute erupted after three nationalist Thai protesters were arrested last week for jumping a barbed-wire fence to reach the temple, prompting armed troops to head to the border.

The World Court ruled in 1962 that Preah Vihear belongs to Cambodia. But the easiest entrance lies in Thailand.

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