>Cambodians accuse Thailand of redeploying troops at border temples

>Ta Moan Thom temple.

Phnom Penh – Cambodian border officials Monday accused Thailand of disregarding agreements to move back from three border temples in northern Oddar Meanchey province, but said they would not act until after bilateral ministerial talks in a week.

After negotiations Tuesday, Thai troops agreed to pull back from the Ta Moan group of temples, but moved back into the area Saturday, said a senior border official who asked not to be named.

‘We have held four rounds of negotiations with the Thais and they just don’t respect any agreement,’ the official said. ‘They have not built a barricade at the temple – that has been there for a long time – but they are making it bigger.’

However, he said Cambodia refused to react until after talks between the nations’ foreign ministers scheduled for August 18.

‘We will not be drawn,’ he said. ‘We await the orders of Prime Minister Hun Sen and he has ordered peaceful negotiation.’

The English-language Cambodia Daily quoted provincial governor Pich Sokkin as saying about 20 Thai troops were now at the temples, with 70 more stationed nearby, and said they were fortifying barricades.

Thailand moved troops into the disputed border area on July 28, further worsening relations over a spat concerning the Preah Vihear temple, which was recently listed as a World Heritage site, about 150 kilometres east of Ta Moan.

Preah Vihear’s listing by UNESCO on July 7 came despite protests by Thailand, which complained the surrounding border area remained in dispute and Thai troops moved in not long after. Later that month the spat spread to Ta Moan.

Cambodia has repeatedly said it has proof that the Ta Moan group of temples are sovereign territory but has stressed it seeks a peaceful resolution to the dispute.

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