Friday, July 18, 2008

Standoff continues on Thai-Cambodia border as Hun Sen weighs in (Lead)

By Puy Kea
PHNOM PENH, July 17 KYODO -- A standoff between hundreds of Cambodian and Thai troops along the two countries' disputed border continued for a third day Thursday as Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen sent his Thai counterpart a letter urging the withdrawal of Thai troops from what he claimed is Cambodian soil.
In his letter to Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, Hun Sen said Thai troops began encroaching on Cambodian territory Tuesday and have since then ''increased in number rather than withdrawing.'' ''The deteriorating situation is very bad for the relations between our two countries, and therefore, I would like to ask Your Excellency to take measures to ease the tensions and order the Thai troops to withdraw,'' he said. Hun Sen said he was pleased to hear that Samak has agreed to meet with Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh next Monday in Thailand 's Sakao Province to discuss the issue. Cambodian officials said Thursday that some 400 Thai troops are now on Cambodian territory, an increase of some 200 from Wednesday.
Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said Cambodia has not increased its troops in the area but has other troops on standby in case any ''worse situation might erupt.'' He added, however, that Cambodian troops will not use force unless first attacked. Thailand insists it has no troops in Cambodia but only in an undemarcated area of the border near the Cambodia-controlled Preah Vihear temple, which has been at the center of a bitter 50-year dispute between the two countries.
July 17, 2008