Wednesday, 22 October 2008
Phnom Penh Post
Dialogue has diffused the previously tense standoff over the small temples, with Thai and Cambodian soldiers now ‘socialising’
CAMBODIAN and Thai troops have withdrawn from Ta Moan Thom and Ta Krabey temples, restoring some calm to the previously hostile border area.
Ho Sothy, deputy commander of Border Military Unit 402, told the Post that soldiers are now based 800 metres from Ta Krabey temple and up to 200 metres from Ta Moan Thom temple.
“The situation is better at Ta Krabey temple because Thai soldiers have moved about 800 metres from it and our soldiers also have moved the same distance, as well as 50 to 200 metres from Ta Moan Thom temple,” Ho Sothy said.
He added that a comfortable dialogue between soldiers had also begun, easing previous tensions.
“Cambodian and Thai soldiers now are socialising and talking to one another. Now, Thai soldiers dare not violate or encroach into Cambodian territory as they had done before the clashes at Preah Vihear temple began,” he said.
“We have contacted each other every two to three days on border work and security. The situation is becoming good and normal. We want such a situation, and we want it to stay this way.”
Leaving the area
Thai troops moved back from the temples after border clashes occurred at Preah Vihear last week.
A gate built by Thai soldiers at Ta Moan Thom was destroyed by Cambodian and Thai soldiers earlier last week after both sides agreed not to block the entrance.
“We destroyed the fence and we agreed to have no military uniform and guns at Ta Moan Thom temple. We will wear only civilian clothing when we are patrolling the temple,” Neak Vong, deputy commander of Brigade 42, told the Post Monday.
Chea Morn, commander of Military Region 4, said Monday the situation at Ta Moan Thom, Ta Krabey and Preah Vihear temples along the border was quiet but that soldiers were still on alert.
“The situation is not tense, but soldiers are on alert to protect our territory,” Chea Morn told the Post.