>Cambodia confident of resolution of border dispute


Samak (R) greets Hun Sen during his visit to Cambodia on 3rd March, 2008.

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) – Cambodia’s prime minister reassured his Thai counterpart Friday that he expects they will find a timely and comprehensive solution to their territorial dispute, which recently led the two neighbors close to an armed clash.
Hun Sen told Thailand’s Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej in a letter that the two countries can
solve their border imbroglio «in a peaceful and amicable manner, as we continue to cherish our long lasting friendship and good neighborliness.
His views came in response to an Aug. 15 missive from Samak.
The prime ministers exchanged the letters in their latest effort to restore good relations as the two countries have been pulling out most of their troops from a disputed frontier area near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple.
Tension in the area erupted on July 15 after UNESCO, the U.N.’s cultural agency, designated the Cambodian temple complex a World Heritage Site. Some Thais feared the temple’s new status would jeopardize their claims to surrounding land.
Thailand and Cambodia have both long claimed land around the temple, which the World Court awarded to Cambodia in 1962.
The UNESCO move triggered nationalistic sentiment in both countries, and both sides massed hundreds of troops in the area. The standoff saw weapons drawn once but no shots were fired.
In his letter to Samak, Hun Sen said he is optimistic that both countries «will soon be able to put a definite end» to the problem of the land near the temple.
He added he is confident that future meetings between Thai and Cambodian officials «will bring about a peaceful settlement to the border issues not only in the Preah Vihear temple area, but also the entire border region» between their countries.

Samak said in his Aug. 15 letter, received Friday, that the two neighbors should work closely together «to reach a mutually acceptable solution» to the border disputes.
«The Cambodian and Thai peoples should live together as good neighbors, sharing and celebrating similar traditions and cultures,» he said.
Cambodia and Thailand share a 500-mile (800-kilometer) border, much of which has never been clearly demarcated because the countries refer to different maps.
Cambodia uses a French colonial map demarcating the border, which Thailand says favors Cambodia. Thailand relies on a map drawn up later with American technical assistance.
Thai and Cambodian officials will hold a new round of troop withdrawal talks on Aug. 29.

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