Thai commanders told a visiting Cambodian delegation on the
border Friday they had not entered Cambodian territory near Preah Vihear temple
as an incursion, but they had occupied neutral land in order to
from Thai protesters.
The Cambodian delegation, led by Council of Ministers
spokesman Phay Siphan, escorted a group of monks to Keo Sikha Kiri Svara
pagoda, known in Cambodia
as the Prasat pagoda, near Preah Vihear temple, to negotiate a Thai military
About 600 Thai troops remained in the pagoda complex, surrounded
by nearly 1,000 Cambodian soldiers, as the military build-up entered its fourth
Wary villagers in the surrounding areas continued to flee
Friday, and less than 100 people remained near the temples.
Thai commanders said they would leave the temple, though
they did not say when.
Around 40 soldiers had come to the pagoda to protect Cambodia
from protesters who were angered by the inclusion of Preah Vihear temple on
Unesco's World Heritage list, the commanders told the delegation.
More Thai troops were seen massing on the Thai side of the
border late Friday.
At least 1,600 troops from each side have massed on the
border, in a situation Prime Minister Hun Sen characterized as
"worsening" in a letter to his Thai counterpart Thursday.
Thai and Cambodia
soldiers pointed their weapons at each other for the first time late Thursday, when
Cambodian soldiers were barred from entering the pagoda by Thai troops.
Cambodian soldiers said they had gone to the pagoda to
protect the monks and nuns staying there.