Marathon Talks Fail To End Temple Standoff

Thai and Cambodian foreign ministers failed Tuesday to resolve the military standoff at Preah Vi­hear or Ta Moan temples, officials said, though the two sides have set dates to meet again and continue negotiations.

While both sides “welcomed the first-phase redeployment of their re­spective troops” and agreed “to convene a second meeting” between military officials Aug 29 in Siem Reap, nothing will change for now, according to a statement posted Tuesday night on the Thai Foreign Ministry Web site.

Both sides agreed to recommend to their respective governments that the Thai-Cambodian Joint Border Commission meet in early October to discuss a survey and demarcation around Preah Vi­hear temple, the statement said.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong and Thai Foreign Minister Tej Bun­nag will not meet again until after the border commission meets, the statement said.

Negotiations began at 9 am Tuesday and lasted more than 12 hours, with only two short breaks for lunch and for Hor Namhong to quickly meet with Thai King Bhu­mibol Adulyadej, said Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan, who was in phone contact with the 10-member Cambodian delegation.

“We’ll pick it up another day,” he said at the conclusion of the mar­athon talks.

“They’re still going on to discuss to define the borderline and the [demarcation] pillar[s],” Phay Si­phan said, adding that the talks were successful in maintaining peace and continuing bilateral negotiations.

Phay Siphan said the Cambo­dian delegation Tuesday morning raised the issue of the Thai troops stationed around the Ta Moan temple complex on the border of Od­dar Meanchey province, but the Thai delegation asked to delay talks on the temples. Cambodia claims ownership of two of the three Ta Moan temples.

Hearing the news of the delay, RCAF Region 4 Deputy Com­mander Nark Vong said his troops are prepared to remain at Ta Moan indefinitely.

“I will stay here until they solve the problem,” he said by telephone Tuesday.

Even though 20 soldiers at Ta Moan have come down with malaria, Nark Vong said, “I don’t worry about malaria because we are ac­customed to staying a long time in the forest. We always have some malaria cases.”

Outside the hotel in Hua Hin, Thailand, where the parties met, media reported that a small number of protesters raised a banner reading “Cambodia get out.”

Thai Foreign Ministry spokes­man Tharit Charungvat said in a statement Tuesday that relations remained “cordial,” and that “boundary issues are complicated ones irrespective of the countries concerned.”

At Preah Vihear temple Tues­day, Cambodian troops were visited by National Police Commission­er Hok Lundy, who distributed $50,000, 200 boxes of instant noodles, 200 boxes of canned fish and 2,000 kg of dried fish, said Som Bo­pharoath, RCAF deputy commander for Preah Vihear province.

Hok Lundy’s visit came a day after Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej visited Thai troops stationed along the border.

RCAF Colonel Som Bopha­roath, who is stationed at the temple, said the situation at Preah Vihear re­mained stable since the troop exodus over the weekend that left just 30 Thai and 30 Cam­bodian troops in the disputed area.

RCAF Major General Srey Dek, chief of the Preah Vihear operation, said 250 Thai troops and 250 Cam­bodian troops are now stationed in the vicinity of the temple, but outside the disputed territory—a situation similar to before the dispute erupted July 15.

Srey Dek added that all other RCAF troops have returned to their home provinces.


Related Stories

Latest News