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Thai, Cambodia armies to meet after border battle

SAMAA | - Posted: Oct 15, 2008 | Last Updated: 13 years ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Oct 15, 2008 | Last Updated: 13 years ago

BANGKOK: The situation along the disputed Thai-Cambodia border was more calm
on Thursday (October 16), the day after the most serious clash in years left
two Cambodian soldiers dead and 10 Thais in Cambodian hands.
Thai and Cambodian military commanders prepared for talks across their
disputed border after Wednesday's (October 15) 40-minute exchange of rocket
and gunfire while both sides were preparing armour and troops for the possible
of confrontation.
Both sides accused each other of firing first.
The cross-border tension comes amid huge political instability and an
economic slowdown in Thailand, as protesters in a long-running Bangkok street
campaign are urging the army to launch a coup against the elected
government.
Whilst attending a ceremony for the appointment of his Defence
Minister, Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat told reporters the talks with
Cambodia will continue.
“We will stick with the talks. The clash was not that big although
some soldiers were injured. It was their duty. I also feel sympathy for our
soldiers,” he said.
Bangkok has urged its citizens to leave Cambodia.
But an escalation did not appear inevitable as the two fractious
neighbours went ahead with a scheduled meeting to resolve arguments over the
jungle frontier.
The talks were due to begin at 11 a.m. (0400 GMT) near the disputed
900-year-old Preah Vihear temple, which has stirred nationalist passions on
both sides for generations.
The border talks would focus on the cause of the clash and how to
ratchet down tensions on the border.
However, Thailand said it would send more troops to the disputed border
area if needed.
“If it's necessary to reinforce troops, the army will do it. The
whole point is to protect our border as we have had planned. In practical
terms it should not be any problem,” said General Apichart Pendit, a
permanent secretary of Defence Ministry.
Cambodian Foreign Ministry Hor Namhong said Cambodian soldiers captured
10 Thai prisoners, whose existence Bangkok continues to deny.
Hor Namhong said the group, who were photographed by a Reuters
photographer under Cambodian guard, would be properly treated and returned to
Thailand if Bangkok requested.

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