Saturday, July 4, 2009

Border dispute not lead to war with Cambodia: Thai defense minister

BANGKOK, July 4 (Xinhua) -- Thai Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said on Saturday that he was confident that the border dispute with Cambodia will not lead to war between the two countries as some fear.

Thailand's Army Region 2 commander will hold talks with Cambodia's army region 4 commander to ease tension along the border and to reduce military forces of the two countries deployed near Preah Vihear temple, Prawit was quoted by the website of the Bangkok Post as saying.

The area around Preah Vihear Temple, which was inscribed as a World Heritage Site on July 7 last year, has been the scene of a tense standoff between the Cambodian and Thai armed forces. The Cambodian government insisted that Thai troops have deployed on Cambodian soil, while Thailand said its troops are only in the disputed zone.

Early Saturday, Thai Deputy Prime Minister for security affairs Suthep Thaugsuban flew to Cambodia to attend the opening ceremony of No 67 highway, due to be presided by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

This is the second visit to Cambodia by Suthep in two weeks.

Suthep said that Thailand has no policy to cut number of troop deployed along Thai-Cambodia border for the time being.

However, he expressed confidence that the situation along the border will not escalate to violent confrontation between the two countries.

In mid-June, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit said the government would ask UNESCO to review last year's decision to register Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site when he meets the organization this week in Spain.

On Cambodian side, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said his country was ready for any situation which might follow the reinforcement of troops on the Thai side of the border.

Tensions have escalated at the Thai-Cambodian border, with Thailand's Second Army Area commander Lt General Wiboonsak Neeparn recently rotated troops at Preah Vihear so that they are fresh and ready for a possible attack from Cambodia.

Cambodia has already boosted its presence in the border area.

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