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  • » 10/29/2008, 00.00

    CAMBODIA - THAILAND

    Cambodia, one of Asia's poorest countries, doubles military spending



    It's about 25% of the new budget. The intention is to match up better against Thailand in the dispute over the temple of Preah Vihear, a World Heritage site. Meanwhile, recent fighting has caused damage to the 900-year-old sculptures.

    Phnom Penh (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Cambodia is doubling its military spending to 500 million dollars, after the recent conflict on the border with Thailand, over the temple of Preah Vihear. Most of the country's population lives beneath the poverty level (less than a dollar a day) and needs international aid. Meanwhile, a joint visit to the temple is scheduled for November 7, with Cambodian and the United Nations authorities, to check the damage caused by the armed conflict.

    Cheam Yeap, head of the finance commission of the national Cambodian assembly, says that next week voting will be held on the new state budget, with military spending at 25% of the total. "This incident has awoken us to the need for our soldiers to be better equipped. We cannot sit and watch Thai troops encroach on our border," Yeap says. "Our army needs to be more organised, better trained, with newer bases and well-fed troops."

    Since August, the two armies have been squaring off near the 900-year-old temple of Preah Vihear, which UNESCO designated as a World Heritage site in July. Both countries claim ownership of the temple, although in 1962 the International Court of Justice ruled that it belongs to Cambodia. In recent fighting, the sculpture of a Hindu goddess was damaged by shrapnel, and both sides are blaming each other.

    It is estimated that there are 100,000 soldiers in the Cambodian army, which makes it about a third the size of the Thai army, but it is a substantial force for one of the poorest countries in Asia. For years, international donors have been asking Cambodia to demobilize thousands of veterans, including many former guerrillas of the Khmer Rouge, in order to free up funds for health and education. Instead, over the past two weeks another 3,000 men have been enlisted, although Prime Minister Hun Sen reiterates that he wants to seek a negotiated solution with Bangkok.

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    See also

    17/07/2008 CAMBODIA - THAILAND
    Dialogue begun, troops amassed at temple of Preah Vihar
    Hundreds of soldiers from the two sides continue to arrive at the contested temple, although both sides say the measures are merely defensive. Tension is high and the Thai police have stopped a group going to the temple to protest. A "cordial" telephone call between the two prime ministers.

    11/11/2013 CAMBODIA - THAILAND
    Preah Vihear: Phnom Penh gets sovereignty over temple area
    The International Court of Justice rules Cambodia owns the land that has been the source of a long-standing dispute with Thailand, and calls on Bangkok to withdraw its troops. In the past, soldiers from the two sides have clashed with scores of dead and wounded. Thai nationalist groups reject the ruling.

    29/07/2008 CAMBODIA – THAILAND
    Cambodia and Thailand to pull back 1,200 troops from Preah Vihear
    No results come from a day of talks; a solution seems faraway. Troop reduction is a good step, but if impasse persists the United Nations might step in.

    25/03/2009 CAMBODIA – THAILAND
    Preah Vihear temple raises Thai-Cambodian tensions
    After last October’s clashes, which left four soldiers dead, the movement of 100 Thai troops into the disputed area causes alarm. Both governments try to downplay the incident.

    02/08/2010 THAILAND – CAMBODIA
    UNESCO does not approve Cambodia’s plan for Phra Viharn temple
    The four-page plan arrived late, according to UN body. Any decision about it is postponed to next year. The Phra Viharn temple is disputed by Cambodia and Thailand. Residents of Thai border villages are happy, hope to see an end of hostility between the two countries.



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    EGYPT – VATICAN
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    ISLAM – VATICAN – EGYPT
    A Muslim writes to the pope: Dear Pope Francis . . .

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    He admires the charity shown by the pontiff towards Syrian Muslim refugees, and his push in favour of love and against hatred. Islamic scholars are not like this, he says, they do not denounce Daesh’s hatred and do nothing for Christians. He calls on the pontiff to press President to Sisi and Al Azhar to reform Islam. Without this Al Azhar risks being the academy of world fundamentalism. Here is the letter from our friend and collaborator Kamel Abderrahmani.


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