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US Neutral in Border Dispute: Official

A US State Department official told a group international relations students that the US remains neutral in the border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia.

Stephen Blake, the State Department director of the Office of Mainland Southeast Asia, who is on a three-day visit to Cambodia, was addressing questions by students of the Institute of International Relations at the Cambodian Royal Academy.

“We know there is an issue over the border between these two countries, and we have told the Thais and we have told [Cambodia] that …both sides should meet and to talk about it and to try to solve it peacefully,” he said. “I don’t think you have to worry about the US intervening in any way, or doing something on behalf of one side or another.”

Cambodian and Thai troops remain in a standoff at the border near Preah Vihear temple, with both sides claiming a piece of the border nearby.

Both sides have failed to bring a resolution in rounds of negotiations. Border committees on both sides will meet in Phnom Penh April 6 and April 7 for more talks.

“If we agree, we can dispatch specialists for demarcating the Preah Vihear area,” Cambodian Border Committee Chairman Var Kimhong told VOA Khmer Wednesday. “We wish for the Thai side to have the will to solve the problem.”

Negotiations have broken down in the past because Thailand continues to adhere to a map drawn up with the US Army in the 1960s, but Cambodia follows a map drawn during the French colonial period, in the early 1900s.

Military officials on the border said Wednesday the situation remains quiet.