Phnom Penh – Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag will host his Cambodian counterpart Foreign Minister Hor Namhong in another effort to settle the potentially explosive border dispute, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday.
In a speech broadcast on state radio, Hun Sen said talks between Hor Namhong and Bunnag would be held in Hua Hin, where His Majesty the King of Thailand has a seaside palace.
“Hor Namhong will meet his Thai counterpart … on Aug 18. Hor Namhong will then” have an audience with His Majesty, Hun Sen said at a rice farming ceremony in the southwestern province of Kampong Speu, 40 kilometres west of the capital.
Cambodia had earlier said no further talks on disputed territory around the World Heritage-listed border temple of Preah Vihear and the Ta Moan Thom temple would be held until a new government was formed, probably in September.
However, with Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party’s efforts to form a coalition appearing to go more smoothly than after any previous election, talks had been moved forward.
Hun Sen said Cambodia sought to take the situation back to how it had been before July 15, when Thai troops moved into overlapping territory surrounding the temple, eight days after Preah Vihear was granted its World Heritage status by Unesco.
“At the pagoda we ask only Buddhist nuns, laymen and Buddhist monks stay – not troops from either side,” Hun Sen said.
“I would like to respectfully inform the Thai king that if any other Cambodian except Hun Sen was prime minister, there would be war on the border since July 15 … but not me.”
“I would like to appeal to everybody to please, not expand the dispute but reduce it … I am strong enough to lead a war. I was a soldier … but the best resolution is not to fight. How many die?”
“Fighting is easy – it’s ending the fight that is difficult,” Hun Sen said. (dpa)