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Cambodia To Continue Bilateral Border Talks

Cambodia supports statements from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this week urging Cambodia and Thailand to solve their border disputes bilaterally, and not through an international court or the Security Council, a government spokesman said Tuesday.

The International Court of Justice should only be called on if the military standoff cannot be solved bilaterally, the spokesman, Phay Siphan, said, responding to a Thai media report that Ban had urged bilateral discussion.

The Court could be one avenue “if bilateral talks can’t reach the goals and can’t end Thai encroachment,” Phay Siphan said, adding that the “complexity” of the political situation in Thailand has made it difficult.

Cambodia’s position on bilateral talks has been criticized by international groups who are anxious to see the situation resolved multilaterally.

Ir Channa, of the Watchdog Council, said he supported Ban’s position that Cambodia and Thailand avoid war but he urged a solution through the international court.

Three rounds of bilateral talks have failed to bring a solution to a build-up of troops on the border that began July 15, near Preah Vihear temple, but domestic protests against the ruling party in Thailand have led to the resignation of two foreign ministers and a prime minister.

Thailand's new prime minister, Somchai Wongsawat, is scheduled to visit Phnom Penh Oct. 13.