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Lights, Donations Ease Life for Troops

As the Preah Vihear military standoff continued Thursday, Cambodian soldiers said they were happy to have at least a few comforts at their posts.

Entrenched high on an escarpment overlooking the Preah Vihear planes, and sometimes just meters away from Thai troops, the soldiers said they were happy for solar-powered lamps sent by Prime Minister Hun Sen, and for donations that have come in from Cambodian celebrities and others.

Cambodia soldiers are happy with the lights, and "we can use them for i-com or to charge mobile phones," said Maj. Gen. Srey Doeuk, commander of the intervention unit of Military Division 12, which is securing Preah Vihear temple.

The lights have made patrols easier as well, he said.

Soldiers received donations every day from the government and NGOs, including fresh water, soy sauce and canned fish. Some people have even donated tents, he said.

The soldiers have enough to eat, he said, and seem to be "strong." No one had a serious illness, though some of the soldiers have headaches and the flu, he said.

Sath Samy, an undersecretary at the Ministry of Mines and Industry, said 30 poles with solar-powered lamps had been installed around Preah Vihear temple, but 50 more were needed.

The foreign ministers of Thailand and Cambodia are scheduled for talks Aug. 18 to help resolve the crisis, which began July 15 after Preah Vihear temple was granted World Heritage status.

Thousands of troops have been posted on the border for the past three weeks, but no violence has been reported.

Two rounds of bilateral talks have so far failed to diffuse the standoff, and Cambodia has a request for discussion of the crisis at the UN Security Council, pending the outcome of this month's talks.