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Fighting, Temple Damage Remain Concerns

Cambodia will need the utmost cooperation from Thailand if an ongoing, potentially deadly, border standoff is to be resolved, a cabinet spokesman said Monday.

Thousands of Thai and Cambodian troops remain stationed on the border, centered around border temples in Preah Vihear and Oddar Meanchey provinces. Political instability in Thailand between opposition supporters and an embattled government have made negotiations difficult.

However, Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said Thursday bilateral talks would continue.

"We wish Thailand to stop confrontations or any intentions to shoot in the area of Preah Vihear temple," he said, as a guest on "Hello VOA."

Cambodia maintains that a portion of the temple was damaged in Oct. 15 fighting between small groups of soldiers. Thailand denies the claim. At least three Cambodian and one Thai soldier was killed in the fighting.

Along with preventing more violence, Cambodia wants to ensure the temple is damaged no further, Phay Siphan said.

Preah Vihear temple was granted World Heritage protection by Unesco July 7, which led to protests in Bagkok and at the temple and the eventual occupation of a nearby pagoda, claimed by Cambodia, by Thai troops. Both sides then massed high numbers of heavily armed troops along the border, leading to the current deadlock.

Phay Siphan said Unesco officials would hold a ceremony at Preah Vihear temple Nov. 7 aimed at decreasing the military tension.

Talks will be held between military commanders on border committees from both sides Nov. 10.

Such talks have so far failed to lead to any meaningful withdrawal of troops, amid worries that a protracted standoff could lead to more violence.