Wednesday, March 25, 2009

March 26, 2009: Thai-Cambodia border calm after temple stand-off

A brief stand-off between Thai and Cambodian troops near a 900-year-old Hindu temple has ended peacefully after the Thais withdrew to their side of the disputed border, a Cambodian official.

"Everything is back to normal on the border after the Thais returned to their territory," Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan said.

Thai officials said their troop movements were not hostile but part of a routine rotation on the border.

The area had been quiet for months after the Southeast Asian neighbours agreed to jointly demarcate the jungle-clad area, where one Thai and three Cambodian soldiers died in last October's exchange of rifle and rocket fire.

Siphan said the joint border committee would meet in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, in the first week of April.

Preah Vihear sits on an escarpment that forms the natural border between the two countries and has been a source of tension for generations.

The International Court of Justice awarded it to Cambodia in 1962, but the ruling did not determine the ownership of 1.8 square miles (4.6 square km) of scrub next to the ruins, leaving considerable scope for disagreement.

Since last year's clashes, both sides have agreed to develop the area for tourism.

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