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Border Committees To Meet in Bangkok

Border committees from Cambodia and Thailand will hold a meeting in Bangkok Tuesday to seek a solution to a long-running border dispute near Preah Vihear temple, defense officials said Monday.

Cambodia’s border committee will leave Tuesday morning, led by Defense Minister Gen. Tea Banh, who will meet his Thai counterpart, Prawit Wongsowon.

Both sides have added more troops to their entrenched positions along the northern border in recent weeks, following escalating rhetoric over Preah Vihear temple. Unesco added the temple to its World Heritage listing, under Cambodia, in July 2008, but Thai officials have recently requested it be jointly run.

The 2008 listing sparked demonstrations in Thailand and led to the occupation of a pagoda by Thai troops in a disputed border area near Preah Vihear temple on July 15, 2008. Both sides amassed troops in the days that followed, and neither side has backed down in subsequent months. At least seven soldiers have died in skirmishes over the past year.

“The Cambodia-Thailand general border committee will hold a meeting in Bangkok from 21 to 22 July aimed at strengthening cooperation between Cambodian and Thai soldiers along the border,” Chhum Socheath, spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, told VOA Khmer on Monday.

“The meeting is intended to make an effort to reduce the tense situation on the battlefield,” he said. “The meeting, however, will not provide a quick result, but I hope it can reduce this on the battlefield and will also build confidence between the two countries.”

On the agenda are means to reduce the numbers of soldiers deployed on the border and to begin the installation of border demarcation, he said.

Border cooperation is important to prevent cross-border terrorism and crime, such as the trafficking of drugs, weapons, artifacts and people, he said.