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Cambodia Pushes for Solution to Standoff


Cambodia continued diplomatic efforts to end a tense military build-up on the Thai border Tuesday, calling a meeting with around 50 diplomats in Phnom Penh and pushing the UN's cultural body for assistance.

Addressing a meeting of foreign ambassadors, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said Tuesday that "Thailand, by using their own map, drawn by themselves very recently, [claimed] many parts of the border between the two countries."

"This [is] a very serious threat to our independence and territorial integrity," he said. "We have an obligation to resort to the UN Security Council."

At least 4,000 troops from both sides have amassed near the border at Preah Vihear temple, along with armored vehicles and artillery. The Royal Palace sent donations of foodstuffs and
tarpaulin shelters to villagers and soldiers near Preah Vihear Tuesday.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday invoked Preah Vihear temple's minted Unesco World Heritage status in a bid to resolve what he called an "unwarranted act of aggression" by Thailand.

"As of 21 July 2008, the situation has escalated further due to the movement of Thai artillery and armored combat vehicles into the area and the continuing increase of heavily armed Thai soldiers inside and around the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda…near the Temple of Preah Vihear," Hun Sen wrote in a letter asking assistance of Unesco Director General Koichiro Matsuura.

The US, meanwhile, called on both sides "to act in a very restrained and responsible manner."

"What is clear is that both sides need to resolve this in a peaceful and legal manner, and so far they are doing so," US Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli told reporters after the diplomatic meeting with Hor Namhong.

Thai and Cambodian commanders have said their soldiers are under control and the situation is stable, but Mussomeli called the build-up of troops along the border "very worrisome."

"We have suggested to both sides that the troops should not be augmented, that more troops are always a dangerous thing, that when you have that many young men with that many weapons in that close a proximity, there's always a danger of violence, and so it would be better for the troops to not be so close to each other," he said. "That just makes common sense."

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