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Thailand, Cambodia Step Up Diplomatic Efforts

Thailand and Cambodia are stepping up diplomatic efforts to prevent
more fighting along their border. But the two countries accuse each
other of using banned weapons in their battles in the past few days
near a 900-year-old Hindu temple.
A Cambodian soldier walks past armored vehicles during the National
Assembly members’ visit to troops in a military base near the Preah
Vhear temple in Preah Vihear province, some 500 kilometers northwest of
Phnom Penh, February 9, 2011. Photoby AFP
The two countries exchanged allegations Wednesday, over the use of internationally banned cluster bombs.

internationally funded Cambodian Mine Action Center says it is
investigating the reports of cluster bombs. Cambodia’s military says
the artillery was from the Thai side of the border.

Ratana, the CMAC secretary-general, says an investigation team has been
sent to Sa’em commune, in Preah Vihear province. A team had been
dispatched to brief civilians over the dangers of the bombs, which do
not always explode on impact, and remain as land mines, posing a threat
long after the conflict is over.

He says CMAC had found
remnants of cluster bombs and saw that cluster munitions were spread in
some areas. But the military situation has been tense and they will not
be able investigate in many areas.

The Thai government denies using cluster bombs.

military confirmed to us that we don’t use this weapon. Number two they
also discovered those weapons in the area and they concluded that the
weapons and are from Cambodia. The cluster shells were discovered in
the area shot by the Cambodian side,” said Panitan Wattanayagorn, the
government spokesman.

Cluster bombs and mines are particularly
sensitive issues in Cambodia. Decades of war in the last century left
parts of the country littered with such weapons and every year scores
of people are injured by unexploded ordnance.

The latest
fighting is the most severe since 2008, when tensions rose after the
11th-century Preah Vihear temple received World Heritage status under
the United Nations Scientific and Educational Organization.

flared up last Friday, and has left at least 10 dead and scores
wounded, including many civilians. Thousands of villagers on both sides
of the border have fled their homes.

Cambodian and Thai troops
remain on high alert, with villagers reporting a build up of security
forces. But Wednesday there were no reports of new fighting.

Preah Vihear temple remained close to the public Wednesday. Cambodian
officials inspected the Hindu site, which appears to have sustained
some damage during the fighting.

UNESCO officials have called
for calm and say experts will be sent to assess damage to the temple.
But Thailand opposes the UNESCO inspection.

The foreign ministers of both countries are due in New York next week to discuss the situation at the United Nations.

1962, the International Court of Justice ruled the Preah Vihear temple
belonged to Cambodia, but a major access route lies in about five
square kilometers of land that is in Thailand. In June the U.N.
Heritage Committee is to meet to decide on a management plan for the

The border dispute has been exacerbated by Thai
politics. In late December, Cambodian officials arrested seven Thais,
including members of Parliament, who were charged with illegally
crossing the border in another disputed area. Two received lengthy
prison sentences for spying, but five have been freed.

nationalists demand that their government oust Cambodians from disputed
lands and invalidate a memorandum of understanding the two countries
signed on resolving border disputes. The government rejects the

Source: VOA News
Categories: Local News
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