>Group Plans Protest of Bilateral Border Talks

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Phay Siphan trying to show maps to journalists that indicate Preah Vihear temple is located in Cambodian territory.



26 September 2008

Critics of a Cambodian government policy to continue bilateral talks with Thailand over disputed border areas and a 10-week military standoff in the northern provinces have planned a protest for Oct. 10.

Bilateral talks over Thai military incursions at Preah Vihear, Ta Moan and Ta Krabey temples have failed and international, multilateral solutions should be sought, according to a group of activists from the EU, US and Canada.

Cambodia and Thailand have been locked in a protracted standoff over the border temples, in Preah Vihear and Oddar Meanchey provinces, since mid-July, following the inclusion of Preah Vihear temple on list of World Heritage sites.

Both sides maintain they are not encroaching, but the borders in the north have long been disputed, with Cambodia adhering to French cartography of the early 1900s and the Thais adhering to a more recent map.

Three rounds of bilateral talks have failed to solve the crisis, and officials worry that the longer the crisis is prolonged, the more likely an incident of military violence may occur.

Meanwhile, Thailand has become mired in a separate political crisis that has already led to the removal of one prime minister and two foreign ministers, putting border talks on hold.

“The Cambodian government should file suit with the International Court of Justice at the Hague, file suit with the co-chairman of the signatory countries of the Paris Peace Accords and push up the suit already filed to the UN Security Council,” the group of border activists said in a statement.

Ly Rotha, an activist from France, said there was no reason to wait for more Thai movement into Cambodian territory, a sentiment echoed by other activists.

But Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said people must follow the advise of Prime Minister Hun Sen and be patient.

Hun Sen has already spoken by phone with Thailand’s new prime minister, Somchai Wongsawat, and both sides hope to meet soon, Phay Siphan said.

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