Thai Troops Withdraw From Disputed Border

Thai soldiers have destroyed make­shift trenches and living quar­ters, and have withdrawn from the area of neutral territory between Cambodia and Thailand near Preah Vihear temple, officials said Sunday.

“They withdrew all of their troops and destroyed their military en­campment entirely on Satur­day,” Preah Vihear deputy gover­nor Pall San said, adding he did not know what prompted the move.

However, he said he was still waiting for an order from the co-Mi­n­isters of Interior to reopen the bor­der checkpoint between the two countries.

Pall San said that even though the Thai soldiers had withdrawn, he still plans to meet with Thai authorities to determine why the troops were de­p­loyed.

“I will insist that they bear res­ponsibility because they created this problem and troubled the friend­ship between our two countries,” he said. “It is not us who caused it.”

The Thai Embassy could not be reached for comment Sunday.

According to a report from the Thai News Agency on Saturday, Cam­­bodia’s refusal to reopen the check­point “flies in the face of an agree­ment” between the two countries.

Nuth Sa An, secretary of state for the Interior Ministry, welcomed Thailand’s withdrawal on Sun­­day and said officials at the min­­istry will discuss the reopening of the border with co-Interior Mi­nisters Sar Kheng and Prince No­ro­dom Sirivudh this week.

Var Kim Hong, chairman of Cam­­bodia’s national border committee, dismissed the dispute as having been resolved.

“We have no problem because they have already withdrawn their troops,” he said Sunday. “The Preah Vihear governor is waiting to reopen the checkpoint after they hold negotiations with Thai authorities this week.”

About 400 Thai soldiers reportedly moved onto the neutral land sep­arating the two countries on the night of May 11 and began building living quarters and trenches. A Thai government official in Phnom Penh last week said the soldiers were there to protect Thai villages and prevent weapons smuggling.

Around 300 Cambodian police and soldiers were deployed near the temple and concealed in the forest in response, a Cam­bodian border official said last week.



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