Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thai soldiers pull back from encroachment into Cambodia (2nd Lead)

By Puy Kea
(EDS: UPDATING WITH THAI TROOPS PULLING BACK) A tense standoff between Thai and Cambodian troops ended late Wednesday afternoon when as many as 100 fully armed Thai soldiers pulled back from Cambodian territory near a disputed border temple. Gen. Yim Pim, commander of Cambodia 's Brigade 43 in the area, told Kyodo News the Thai troops returned to their previous position around 5 p.m., about four hours after crossing into Cambodian territory.
The general said that after negotiations between the two sides the Thai troops agreed to leave the dispute up to a joint Cambodian-Thai border commission.Earlier Wednesday, Phay Siphan, spokesman for Cambodia 's Council of Ministers, told Kyodo News the Thai troops crossed into Cambodia at 1:45 p.m. at a site known as Eagle Field where the Cambodian and Thai militaries had a tense confrontation last year.
Eagle Field is about 2 kilometers west of the disputed Preah Vihear Temple . Initial reports said the Thai troops planned to reoccupy the area, but the Cambodians wanted them to return to their previous position about 800 meters away.
In Bangkok , Thai army sources rejected Cambodia 's version of the incursion. In late February, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen met with his Thai counterpart on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Thailand , during which the two leaders reaffirmed their intent to solve the seven-month-old border dispute, but they set no deadline.
The area near Preah Vihear Temple was the scene of a tense standoff between Cambodian and Thai armed forces that left several dead on both sides. The situation has since eased, but the military presence remains.
The Cambodian government insists that Thai troops are deployed on Cambodian soil, while Thailand says its troops are only in a disputed zone. Since the border issue erupted last year, many rounds of talks at different levels, including at the defense and foreign ministerial levels, have been held but a concrete agreement or solution has proved elusive.
KyodoMarch 25, 2009

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