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94 European Tanks Purchased, En Route: Officials

Cambodia has purchased 94 T-55 tanks from eastern Europe to bolster its military capacity, officials said.

“The purchase of military equipment by individual countries in the world is normal,” a senior military official said on condition of anonymity. “Cambodia has bought tanks and armor that is due to arrive soon. That's to protect its sovereignty if there is any intent to invade from a foreign country.”

Officials would not disclose details of the deal, but the purchase comes amid a prolonged military standoff with Thailand over a disputed border area near Preah Vihear temple.

Koy Kuong, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirmed the deal, saying the tanks would arrive in a few weeks.

Military officials said the price of used tanks could be towards $1 million. Cambodia's annual defense budget is about $300 million.

Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, did not disagree with the purchase of the military equipment, but said the prices should be public.

“Whether the purchase is transparent or not, and the buying follows the market price,” he said. “We're not making accusations. But it should be published.”