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Military Border Standoff Enters Fifth Day


Military attaches from at least four countries and Cambodia's top military police commander traveled to Preah Vihear temple near the Thai border Saturday, as a military standoff entered its fifth day.

The military attaches, from Vietnam, China, the US and France, joined Lt. Gen. Sao Sokha near the temple, and soldiers told VOA Khmer the situation was stable.

The military attaches had come in the capacity of "tourists," in order to see the reality of the confrontation, Sao Sokha told reporters Saturday. The diplomats don't want to see either country have a confrontation, which would destroy the mutual interests of both countries, he said.

At least 1,600 soldiers from both sides now occupy land surrounding Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda, known in Cambodia as the Prasat pagoda.

Thai Division 6 commander Col. Huong Songnoeun told VOA Khmer Saturday there would be no fighting.

Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej sent a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen Friday claiming the construction of the pagoda 200 meters west of Preah Vihear temple was a violation of existing agreements.

"The establishment of the Cambodian community, including construction of a temple and houses, and the stationing of the Cambodian military personnel in the area constitute a continued violation of Thailand's sovereignty and territorial integrity," the Thai Foreign Ministry said in a statement, according to Agence France-Presse.

Cambodian officials maintain the pagoda and the temple belong to Cambodia.

The week's tensions surround the inclusion of Preah Vihear temple on Unesco's World Heritage list, a decision that sparked opposition protests in Bangkok and led to the resignation of Thailand's foreign minister.

Cambodia Watchdog Council International issued a request to Unesco Thursday asking the organization to request a Thai withdrawal of troops.

Thai and Cambodian soldiers in the pagoda and surrounding land have been mingling together in past days, but they nearly clashed on Thursday, when Thai troops pointed weapons at Cambodian soldiers trying to enter the pagoda.

A joint border committee is scheduled to meet over the standoff on Monday.

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