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Top Commanders Meet Over Border Dispute

Top military commanders for Cambodia and Thailand met Monday to ease mounting military pressure over a prolonged border standoff and recent maritime grievances.

Gen. Pol Saroeun, commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, met his Thai counterpart, Gen. Songkitti Jaggabatra, following protests from Thailand of recent offshore oil exploration initiated by Cambodia.

The two also discussed potential removal of troops from the border near Preah Vihear temple, where they have been entrenched since July 2008, said Chhum Socheath, spokesman for the Cambodian Defense Ministry.

“The two sides spoke in the name of the two states,” he said. “We unite and cooperate in keeping peace along the border of the two nations for not having the standoff and to let the border committees of the two countries solve [the dispute]. Besides that, we are prepared to meet military officials of the two countries in all levels more often.”

The Thai commander said the border issue was not a problem, “because the two nations are neighbors and have since ancient times shared the same culture and tradition,” he said. The Cambodian commander said he requested Prime Minister Hun Sen withdraw a number of troops from the border.

The two sides also agreed to develop the border area to improve people’s livelihoods there. They agreed to hold a joint Buddhist ceremony to raise money for pagodas.

The Thai delegation was scheduled to visit the temples of Kampong Thom and Siem Reap provinces Tuesday.