Deadlock On Troops Threatens To Derail Talks

A meeting in Siem Reap town between Thai and Cambodian officials continued late into Thursday night without an apparent agreement, as the Thais refused to discuss the redeployment of troops facing off at the border, a Cam­bo­dian official said.

Besides the redeployment, the Thais also disagreed on the establishment of a Thai-Cambodian joint demining committee to facilitate the work of the Joint Boundary Com­mission, which is responsible for setting border markers in heavily mined areas.

The talks were scheduled to re­sume at 8:30 am today with participation from Minister of Defense Tea Banh, but a deadlock on the redeployment issue could derail the meeting, Phay Siphan, Council of Ministers spokesman, said late Thursday night.

Phay Siphan said Tea Banh had played a round of golf with Thai officials in Siem Reap on Thursday to create “a good mood” between the participants, which included military officials and provincial governors.

Chea Morn, RCAF Region 4 commander-in-chief, said he planned to also join today’s scheduled talks.

Also Thursday, RCAF Military Region 5 announced that it had selected young men to join the military at the border.

“Region 5 needs 350 new soldiers, and they volunteered to be soldiers according to the conscription law,” the region’s commander-in-chief Bun Song said by telephone.

Bun Song said the volunteers will receive a health checkup be­fore being sent for three months’ military training in Battambang province.

Officials in RCAF Military Re­gion 4 revealed Wednesday that they had a similar program to recruit young volunteers to reinforce the army in its current standoff with Thailand.

However, Banteay Meanchey province RCAF commander Plon Dara said Thursday that he had not yet selected volunteers but was training local militias.

“We have the right to train our people also,” he said.

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