Cambodia-Thailand relations improve even as peace ceremony is delayed

Updated On: Aug 27, 2009

A 13-month military standoff that has claimed more than seven lives and left hundreds homeless at an ancient border temple is at last giving way to peace, Prime Minister Hun Sen declared.

In a sign of thawing relations with Thailand, he announced plans to reduce the number of troops stationed around the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple in a gesture of political good will. The disputed frontier has been the scene of violent clashes with Thai soldiers since 2008.

Hun Sen said Thailand had reduced the number of its soldiers stationed on the border to just 30, effectively ushering in a cease-fire. At the height of the fighting, Thai troops massed in their hundreds. Cambodia now intends to send a number of troops away from the area and back to their bases in nearby provinces, Hun Sen said, although he declined to give precise figures.

Cambodia and Thailand have been quarreling over the land around the Preah Vihear temple for decades.

Although the World Court ruled in 1962 that it belonged to Cambodia, the most accessible entrance to the ancient Khmer temple is in northeastern Thailand. The ruins were granted UN World Heritage status in July 2008, throwing Cambodian-Thai relations into a downward spiral.

The top army leaders of Cambodia and Thailand met in Cambodia's capital of Phnom Penh on Monday to reiterate their good cooperation and to strengthen their relationship.

The two sides, however, did not talk on redeployment of troops stationed near khmer Preak Vihear temple, saying the issue shall be left for decision by the two countries' regional commanders there.

In a further gesture of solidarity, Thai and Cambodian soldiers were due to take part in a joint religious festival at Ta Thav.

However, the ceremony has been postponed for a second time. Thailand delayed the ceremony because of domestic commitments, said So Dorn, an officer with Battalion 404.


Thais defer ceremony at border once again, 26 August 2009,


Top army leaders of Cambodia, Thailand meet in Phnom Penh, 24 August 2009,


Border troops to stand down as Preah Vihear conflict cools, 24 August 2009,


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