Cambodia will not reopen its border crossing at Preah Vihear temple until Thailand agrees to establish a new border checkpoint a few kilometers away from the temple, Preah Vihear, first deputy govenor said Wednesday.
Pall San said that during talks aimed at reopening the Preah Vihear crossing, Cambodian officials asked their Thai counterparts to open a new checkpoint at Ta Thav area, just east of the temple, to help cross-border trade.
“We had friendly and close relations” during Tuesday’s negotiations, Pall San said, but no resolution was reached. “I asked them to open a new checkpoint at Ta Thav, and we will move our people to live [by] it.”
Thai officials did not immediately agree to the request, he said. Thai Embassy officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Both the Thai and Cambodian border gates at the temple remain closed.
Tensions around the border crossing rose earlier this month, when hundreds of Thai soldiers moved into disputed border territory by the temple, Cambodian officials said.
Hundreds of Cambodian villagers were temporarily displaced by the troop presence.
Provincial officials reported Sunday that the Thai troops had withdrawn and destroyed their makeshift trenches and living quarters.
During Tuesday’s talks, Thailand said that a Cambodian market beneath the temple is polluting a stream that runs into Thailand, Pall San said.
Cambodian officials offered to block the stream on the Cambodian side of the border and dig a canal that would divert the sewage back into Cambodia, Pall San said. Thailand did not immediately respond to the offer, he said.
Pall San said the Cambodian side held the upper hand during the negotiations.
“We dominated this meeting because Thai officials learned that they have made a mistake by causing a problem at the temple,” Pall San said. “It is Thai soldiers who created this problem which causes trouble with tourists and with the relationship between both countries.”
No date has been set for new negotiations, he added.