Temple troops back off, Thailand and Cambodia reaffirm commitment to dialogue.

The situation to Preah Vihear returns to an uneasy calm again as Thailand and Cambodia both reaffirm their commitment to a diplomatic resolution after a firefight erupted between troops stationed near the Preah Vihear temple last Friday, killing four men. It’s good to see that both countries have repeatedly sought to resolve the conflict at the table rather than at the battlefield, but the continued stationing of troops at the border is counter-productive. Men with guns with nothing to do, waiting for other men with guns are simply asking for trouble. Eventually, somebody is going to make a move that’s going to be construed as an act of aggression and then a firefight erupts.

Cambodia, Thailand in talks after border clash
AFP, via Channel NewsAsia, 05 April 2009

Cambodian and Thai officials held urgent talks to prevent fresh fighting on their border Sunday after months of tensions over disputed land near an ancient temple flared up into deadly gunbattles.

A third Thai soldier died in hospital following Friday’s clashes, which plunged relations between the neighbours to a new low just days before a regional summit that was supposed to focus on the global economic slowdown.

Military officials from both sides met over lunch in disputed territory near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple on Sunday, while Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen was set to meet Thai officials later in the capital Phnom Penh.


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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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