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Groups Push for Temple Solution, Protection

Local agencies called for international intervention in the ongoing Preah Vihear crisis Friday, while requesting the government take emergency measures to secure other Cambodian temples all along the Thai border.

"We call on the international community, especially Asean and the United Nations, to continue to pay attention [to the issue] and take action to secure the area, in case the future meeting will not have a smooth result," said Sok Samoeun, director of the Cambodian Defenders Project.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong is expected to fly to Thailand to meet his counterpart Aug. 18 in an effort to resolve the crisis, which includes the build-up of thousands of armed troops, artillery and armor.

The Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers of Democratic Union, or CCAWDU, and two other local groups, including the Cambodian Women's Crisis Center and the rights group Adhoc, joined in the appeal.

"We think that if Thailand prolongs the issue, we propose to the Cambodian government to submit the file to the UN in order to end it very quickly," said Ath Thun, director of CCAWDU. "Legally we have the support of the law."

Chan Saveth, an Adhoc investigator, emphasized that if the UN agrees to resolve the problem, it will support Cambodia, "because we don't have many resources to work with."

Around 30 NGOs sent a letter to the UN in July, calling for the creation of a zone around Preah Vihear temple that would prohibit armed soldiers; they also requested the deployment of peacekeepers.

Cambodian military officials said Friday the border situation remained stable, with no withdrawal of troops from either side near Preah Vihear temple.

Cambodian media have reported that some troops have backed out of Ta Moan temple, in Oddar Meanchey province, though some remain. Cambodian patrols along the border have been followed by Thai forces, according to media reports.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said the situation had improved and the government was now waiting for continued negotiations.

"We think that the bilateral [talks] are important now, and to go forward to the UN would be the last choice," Khieu Kanharith said.

Cambodia halted a request for intervention from the UN Security Council last month, pending bilateral talks.