>Thai, Cambodian ministers fail to solve border row

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

(Chor Sokunthea/Reuters)

The Associated Press

Published: October 13, 2008

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In a statement issued after the meeting, Cambodia called for more talks to prevent further escalation after the Oct. 3 cross-border gunfight that wounded one Cambodian and two Thai soldiers.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong met for two hours with Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Amornwiwat in the first high-level encounter since the gunfight.

The shooting occurred in a disputed border area several miles (kilometers) west of Cambodia’s ancient Preah Vihear temple.

Both sides claimed the other fired first and blamed each other for being on the wrong side of the border.

In the statement, Cambodia’s Foreign Ministry proposed more talks to settle the border issues peacefully “to avoid further unwarranted hostilities.”

But if the bilateral process fails, the two countries should “refer to the legal process of international institutions” to resolve the problem, the statement said without elaborating.

The Thai foreign minister did not speak to reporters after the meeting.

The one-day visit was a courtesy call by Sompong as new Thai foreign minister, said Tharit Charungvat, the ministry’s spokesman.

Both countries have long claimed Preah Vihear, but the World Court awarded it to Cambodia in 1962. Sovereignty over some of the land around the temple, however, has not been clearly resolved.

Tensions flared July 15 after UNESCO, the U.N. agency, approved Cambodia’s bid to have the Preah Vihear temple named a World Heritage Site. Both sides deployed troops to the border.

There has been a limited troop withdrawal from the area since, and talks have been held several times to resolve the conflicting claims, but without much progress.

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