07/29/2008, 00.00
CAMBODIA – THAILAND
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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.
Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Cambodia and Thailand agreed after 12 hours of tense talks on Monday to pull back 1,200 troops stationed near the Preah Vihear temple, but failed to end the long-running border dispute.

“It was a successful meeting," Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told a press conference, saying discussions between the ministers were cordial. “We are [. . .] trying to solve the problem peacefully.”

“This agreement should be without prejudice against the rights of both sides,” he said, keeping channels of communication open.

Experts note that talks were made more difficult by the presence of newly-appointed Thai Foreign Minister Taj Bunnag who lacks the necessary experience and capacity to talk with seasoned veteran Cambodian foreign minister, who has held his post for decades.

Speaking to the press the Thai minister said that he would report on the meeting with the Thai cabinet.

Both countries claim an area that contains the Preah Vihear temple along their border where they deployed troops.

For Cambodia there is no issue since the United Nations’ International Court of Justice ruled that the temple belonged to it.

Thailand would like to see the area come under joint control, stressing that this would better respect the area’s status as a World Heritage Site that it received from UNESCO.

Bangkok is under pressure from nationalists.

Phnom Penh in pushing for United Nations mediation if bilateral talks fail.

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