Roughly 70 Thai and Cambodian soldiers rang in the New Year with an afternoon of drinks, desserts and dancing along the two nations’ shared border in Preah Vihear province, military officials said yesterday.
Gathering Friday at Choam Ksan district’s Choam Ksan commune, the group feasted on cakes, fruit and soft drinks while dancing to music, said Major-General Srey Dek, commander of the RCAF 3rd Division. Mr Dek, who attended the festivities, said both sides exchanged their New Year’s greetings and thoughts on the ongoing border standoff.
“The Thai commander has asked Cambodia to keep the border stable and use negotiations rather than choosing to attack but Cambodia is still preparing for a bad conflict if it does happen,” he said.
The neighboring countries have been at odds for nearly a year and a half over the boundary bypassing the temple of Preah Vihear and have come to blows on more than one occasion. Friday’s party occurred about 12 km northeast of the hilltop temple.
Deputy RCAF Commander-in-Chief Lieutenant-General Chea Dara said soldiers posted along the frontier have met in the past—for lunch and for other holidays—in an effort to improve ties between the two sides.
As for last week’s celebration, he stated that he met with a newly appointed Thai commander and personally sent the dancers to the meeting, as well as taking part in the traditional Ramvong dances.
“I sent some dancers from Division 3 and the Thais sent some, too,” he said. “I also danced with them and we spent about two hours together.”
He added that the Thai residents along the border told him they were growing tired with the Thai government and its inability to resolve the conflict.