By KER MUNTHIT,
Associated Press Writer
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Cambodia has agreed to meet Monday with Thailand to discuss a stretch of disputed land near a historic temple, rather than take the matter to the U.N. officials from both countries said Thursday.
Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said he talked to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and the two leaders decided to schedule a foreign ministers’ meeting in the Cambodian city of Siem Reap on Monday.
They plan to discuss how best to end the crisis over land near the 11th century temple of Preah Vihear that led both countries to deploy soldiers near the site.
Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith confirmed the meeting would take place and “postpone the complaint to the Security Council.”
Monday’s meeting follows failed efforts earlier this week to resolve the crisis, which prompted Cambodia to take the issue to the U.N. Security Council.
Military tensions between the two countries over 1.8 square miles of land intensified earlier this month after UNESCO approved a Cambodian application to have the temple designated a World Heritage Site.
Thailand sent troops to the border July 15 after anti-government demonstrators attacked Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej’s government for supporting Cambodia’s application. It claims they were deployed only after 1,000 Cambodian troops were spotted in the area. The troops were protecting a demining team, which was sent there after a Thai soldier stepped on a land mine, officials said.
The announcement would seem to be a small diplomatic victory for Thailand, which had rejected Cambodian requests to involve the U.N. and the grouping of Southeast Asian nations in the matter. Thailand’s U.N. ambassador, Don Pramudwinai, accused Cambodia on Wednesday of bringing the quarrel before the Security Council because “the Cambodian target is not only Preah Vihear but the entire common border.”
Cambodian says some 4,000 troops from both countries are massed in the area around Preah Vihear. Thailand says it has 400 troops in the area and that Cambodia has 1,700.
Don said Cambodia was trying to force Thailand to accept a French colonial map’s demarcation of the border.
Thailand relies on a different map drawn up later with American technical assistance, but accepts a ruling by the International Court of Justice that awarded the disputed temple to Cambodia in 1962.