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No Land Lost on Border: Thai Premier

Cambodia’s foreign minister on Tuesday welcomed remarks by Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva Monday that claimed Thailand had not lost any land along the contested border.

Long-standing border issues between the countries have been at the heart of a military standoff near Preah Vihear temple for more than a year, during which at least seven soldiers have died in a series of skirmishes.

The Bangkok Post quoted Abhisit Monday saying no land had been last near Preah Vihear temple. The premier was responding to fears in Bangkok that the nation might be at a disadvantage in bilateral talks, following a green-light for negotiations from Thai parliament last week.

A perceived loss of Thai land would likely hurt talks between the two countries, both of which have deeply nationalistic groups.

The July 2008 listing of Preah Vihear temple as a Cambodian World Heritage site sparked massive demonstrations in Bangkok. On the Cambodian side, nationalist fervor over an alleged insult to Angkor Wat by a Thai television actress led to a night of riots in 2003, during which the Thai Embassy was sacked and many Thai businesses burned or looted.

Abhisit’s remarks Monday were “positive,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong told reporters in Phnom Penh.

“Some people in Thai opposition parties have claimed that the negotiations with Cambodia have so far lost Thai territory, but in fact it is not true,” he said, adding that the area where Cambodian soldiers are stationed is within Cambodian territory.