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Foreign Minister Delays UN Trip for Talks

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong met with diplomats from UN Security Council nations in Phnom Penh Friday, delaying a trip to New York in favor of bilateral border talks with Thailand Monday.

Cambodia has asked the UN to postpone meetings on the Preah Vihear crisis, pending negotiations on Monday, but Hor Namhong said the UN option remained on the table if Monday's talks fail.

Hor Namhong briefed the diplomats on the latest in the Preah Vihear temple crisis, which has brought a tense military standoff to the Thai-Cambodian border that began July 15.

"The [bilateral] meeting next week will be a positive meeting," Hor Namhong told reporters Friday.

Cambodia was expecting help from special envoys from Asean neighbors Vietnam and Indonesia, Hor Namhong said.

Thailand had placed at least seven artillery pieces on the border near Preah Vihear temple, he said.

Up to 1,500 Cambodian troops remained on the border Friday.

Cambodia and Thailand agreed to bilateral talks late Thursday, following a failed attempt to bring the crisis under Asean mutli-lateral discussion and appeals by Cambodia to the UN Security Council and Unesco.

Asian Human Rights Commission researcher Lao Monghay called the talks a "flip-flop" from bilateral to international negotiation and back.

"To me, it seems the government has no real strategy," he said.

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay said international negotiation would be preferable to at last "finish this time…the border problem."