>Cambodia warns Thailand again in border spat

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Cambodia’s Foreign Minister Hor Namhong speaks to the media after meeting with Thailand’s Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Phnom Penh October 13, 2008. Amornvivat is in Cambodia for a one-day official visit and to discuss the border dispute issue.

REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) – Cambodia accused Thailand on Monday of trying to send troops across their disputed border, warning that such a provocation could eventually lead to “large scale conflict.”

Deputy Defense Minister General Neang Phat said more Cambodian troops were heading to the area after up to 500 Thai soldiers had tried to cross the border near an ancient Hindu temple claimed by both countries.

“We are building up our troops at the border in response to Thailand, but I cannot reveal the number,” he told reporters.

After talks in Phnom Penh with his Thai counterpart, Sompong Amornvivat, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said further provocations could trigger another shooting incident. Three soldiers were wounded in a brief clash on October 3.

“This could lead to a large-scale conflict,” he told reporters.

Sompong, who was due to meet Prime Minister Hun Sen later on Monday, did not speak to reporters and Thai officials in Bangkok denied any attempted incursion.

“Invasion? What invasion when the land is claimed by both sides?” army spokesman Sunsern Kaewkumnerd told Reuters.

The standoff began in July and centers on 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) of scrub near the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple that sits on a jungle-clad escarpment dividing the countries.

The argument started when protest groups seeking to overthrow the Thai government criticized Bangkok’s backing of Cambodia’s bid to list Preah Vihear as a U.N. World Heritage site.
Both sides have claimed Preah Vihear for decades. The International Court of Justice awarded it to Cambodia in 1962, a ruling that has rankled many in Thailand ever since.

(Reporting by Ek Madra; Writing by Darren Schuettler; Editing by Ed Cropley and David Fox)

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