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No Policy of Violence on Border: General

The gunfire that erupted between Thai and Cambodian forces along the border Friday was an accident, and not by order of the government, a senior military official said Monday.

The clash, in Pursat province, reportedly left one Thai soldier dead, according to Cambodian soldiers, a claim Thai authorities dispute.

Thailand and Cambodiahave steadily built up troops along the border since July 2008, when a border dispute began over Preah Vihear temple. Sporadic fighting since then has left as many as eight soldiers dead on each side.

“What’s happening occasionally is not by order of high level government,” said Chhum Socheat, a lieutenant general and spokesman for the Cambodian Ministry of Defense, as a guest on “Hello VOA.” “It’s just a misunderstanding where the Thai army entered Cambodian territory.”

Cambodian soldiers, too, have crossed onto Thai soil, he said, citing an example where two soldiers were arrested and sent back to Cambodian in January. While the situation may appear tense from the outside, he said, up close, soldiers from each side mostly get along, including playing ball together.

Border experts from both countries were working to end disputes by marking the border, he said, but since the conflict over Preah Vihear began, they have suspended their work. Both sides have been able to agree on 50 demarcations so far, with another 23 to go.

The conflict is not over Preah Vihear temple, Chhum Socheat said, but over a map Thailand has used since it lost the temple to a World Court decision in 1962.

Meanwhile, Cambodia and Thailandremain at a diplomatic impasse over the hiring of ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen.