Prime Minister Hun Sen gave Thailand an ultimatum Monday to withdraw troops from a disputed stretch of the border within 24 hours or Cambodian forces would turn the area into a “death zone.”
“Thai troops must withdraw from Cambodian land by tomorrow at the latest,” Hun Sen told reporters after meeting Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat in Phnom Penh. “We will not allow them to occupy our land.”
Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong said earlier Monday that he had received word from the frontline during his meeting with Sompong that Thailand had attempted to send more troops into Veal Intry, or “Eagle Field,” by Phnom Trop mountain, an area near Preah Vihear temple claimed by both countries.
Hun Sen said 84 Thai soldiers were “camping” in Veal Intry, about 30 meters from his own forces. “The situation at the Veal Intry area is too hot. They have to remove tonight or tomorrow. If they don’t remove from the Veal Intry area, war will be waged,” Xinhua news agency quoted Hun Sen as saying.
“They said they stay there only one day. Cambodia still keep our maximum restraints and won’t mind if they go back to their own stronghold,” he said, according to Xinhua. “We want to solve the matter with a peaceful deal. We are trying to shorten the conflict.”
In talks at the Foreign Ministry early Monday morning, Hor Namhong had also told Sompong that further Thai incursions into disputed territory near the Preah Vihear temple would lead to armed confrontation.
“If Thai troops go into Cambodia, shooting will occur,” Hor Namhong told a news conference following their meeting at the Foreign Ministry.