Thai-Cambodian border tension eases as Hun Sen returns to Phnom Penh
SURIN, Feb 8 (TNA) - Rising tension along Thai-Cambodia border eased Monday after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen returned to his capital without visiting the Ta Muen Thom temple ruins as earlier requested.
Lt-Gen Veevalit Chornsamrit, Thailand's 2nd Army Area Commander, said Monday that group of 20 unarmed Cambodian soldiers have requested Thailand for permission to visit Ta Muen Thom temple in Surin, however the 2nd Army explained to them that the situation was unfavourable for their visit
for fear of possible confrontation with protesters from the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) gathering near the temple.
Gen Veevalit said the Khmer soliders now better understand the situation and agreed not to enter the temple area.
Thai reporters said the Cambodian leader returned to Phnom Penh after attending a ceremony for a battalion and a new route as well as for a border village inside Cambodian territory without visiting Ta Muen Thom as earlier requested.
Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban earlier reaffirmed that Mr Hun Sen can visit the Thai temple ruins but Thai troops will not be withdrawn from the ruins which belong to Thailand.
"We have been taking care of and and [holding in our] possession the area [of the Ta Muen Thom ruins]. Cambodia cannot claim its right over the area," said Mr Suthep."It's unlike the case of Preah Vihear temple in which the dispute was brought to the International Court of Justice."
The Cambodian prime minister and his wife on Saturday visited the 11th century Preah Vihear temple.
The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the Preah Vihear temple belongs to Cambodia, but Thailand holds that the 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) area surrounding the ancient temple belongs to Thailand.
Border demarcation in the area remains unresolved and sporadic clashes have occurred since then.
The deputy premier commented that Mr Hun Sen's recent move is aimed at convincing the World Heritage Committee that he can resolve the Thai-Cambodian border conflict despite the fact that the dispute is far from being solved.
Mr Suthep also urged the public not to rally against Mr Hun Sen's visit as it will obstruct the work of Thai security officials.
Thai News Agency reporter reported from Surin that checkpoint has been set up not far from the Ta Muen Thom ruins to prevent Thai protesters from marching into the area. Only food is allowed to be sent to the the group of protesters led by the People's Alliance for Democracy who gathered at the area near the ruins since Sunday.
The TNA reporter said security personnel have been on standby near the PAD venue, together with a fire engine to disperse the crowd in case they attempt to break through the security line into the ruins.
The reporter added that tension along the Thai-Cambodian border flared up following the planned visit of Mr Hun Sen.
Thai army personnel have been reinforced around the Ta Muen Thom ruins, while Cambodia also reinforced its troops to provide security for Mr Hun Sen. (TNA)