U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (pictured) has expressed “deep concern” over Wednesday’s gunfire between the soldiers of the two countries along their disputed stretch of the border near the ancient Preah Vihear temple, which left two soldiers dead and several others wounded.
“He calls on both parties to exercise utmost restraint and urges them to expedite bilateral talks so that their differences can be resolved peacefully,” Ban’s spokesperson Michele Montas said.
The United States, meanwhile, urged both Thailand and Cambodia to show restraint and resolve differences “via political channels and political means.”
Tensions between the Buddhist neighbors flared again this week after talks to end months-long standoff over land near Preah Vihear — a United Nations cultural heritage site inside Cambodian territory — failed Monday.
The conflict first arose in July when the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) accepted Cambodia’s submission to name Preah Vihear a World Heritage site, with both countries dispatching troops to the border.
The situation quickly escalated into a military confrontation, with up to 1,000 Cambodian and Thai troops in an eye-ball-to-eye-ball confrontation for six weeks, although both sides in August agreed to reduce troops.
The 11th century temple was recognized by the World Heritage Committee for “its natural situation on a promontory, with sheer cliffs overlooking a vast plain and mountain range; the quality of its architecture adapted to natural environment and religious function of the temple and finally the exceptional quality of the carved stone ornamentation of the temple.”
by RTT Staff Writer