>Thai troops’ withdrawal from Cambodia border eases tension

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Cambodia’s General Srey Dek (L) listens to an interpreter as Thailand’s Colonel Chayan Huay Soongnern (R) watches at Sekha Kirisvarak pagoda near the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, October 14, 2008. Thai soldiers pulled back from a disputed stretch of the Cambodian border on Tuesday, averting a possible military confrontation near the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple, a Cambodian general on the scene said. Bangkok denied his claim.

REUTERS/Stringer (CAMBODIA)

Published Date: 14 October 2008

THAI troops retreated from a disputed border zone today, easing tensions after Cambodia’s prime minister issued an ultimatum to withdraw or face unspecified consequences.
Cambodian army commander Brigadier General Yim Pim said all Thai troops had retreated and were back inside their camp about half a mile from the contested territory.

He said: “The tense situation has now eased.”

Earlier today, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had warned Thailand to pull back 84 troops from the area by noon, 5am UK time.

He accused the troops of having crossed into Cambodian territory in a disputed stretch of jungle near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple, a source of enmity between the two for decades.

He said: “They must withdraw. At any cost, we will not allow Thai troops to invade this area. I would like to be clear about this. It is a life-and-death battle zone.”

A Thai army spokesman could not be immediately reached to confirm the withdrawal.

But Thailand’s Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat had said earlier in the day he had ordered the army to “take care of the situation so there is no violence”.

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