Pattaya Daily News

19 August 2008 :: 00:08:42 am 42994

Thai Pm Visits Disputed Temples Ahead of New Border Talks

SI SA KET, Aug 18 -- Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej on Monday visited two disputed ancient temples of the poorly-delineated border with neighbouring Cambodia ahead of a fresh round of talks between the foreign ministers of the two countries aimed at reducing tensions along the common border.
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Accompanied by a number of senior officials, including army chief Gen. Anupong Paochinda, Mr. Samak flew by helicopter to Ta Muen Thom ruins which sits in Thailand’s northeastern province of Surin, according to Thailand, while Cambodia claims it is in its northern Uddor Meanchey province.

The Cambodian government has stepped up its claims of ownership over several other ancient Khmer temples, including the Ta Muen Thom ruin, after the Preah Vihear temple was listed by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee as a World Heritage site early last month. The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that Preah Vihear belongs to Cambodia, but the surrounding land remains dispute by the two countries.

Mr. Samak, also defence minister, later visited sites in Surin’s Phanom Dong Rak border district and advised local farmers who came to greet him to grow cassava and sugarcane to use for producing ethanol.

He also told a local government officer to continue organising the annual fair at Ta Muen Thom ruin held every April as it would strengthen unity between Thai people living in the district with Cambodians who visit the fair.

Mr. Samak and his delegation flew on to Si Sa Ket’s Kantharalak district and inspected a military detachment guarding Preah Vihear temple, telling them that troop reductions between Thailand and Cambodia would be made presently.

Currently, both countries maintain 10 soldiers each at Preah Vihear and another 20 each around the temple, he said. Thailand will deploy 300 soldiers while Cambodia will have 500 soldiers posted along the two countries’ common border.

In future both countries will deploy an equal number of soldiers along the length of entire border, Mr. Samak said.

His visit to the two areas came just one day before Thai Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong will meet for the second time Tuesday in the Thai resort town of Cha-am in Phetchaburi to find ways on easing tensions along the border. (TNA)

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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