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As Two Sides Meet, Slow Progress in Preah Vihear Border Dispute

Worapong Sanganetra, left, head of Thailand’s side of the working group, sit along with Neang Phat, right, a military general and chairman for Cambodia.

The Cambodian and Thai border working group met over disputed territory near Preah Vihear temple late into Wednesday night, with participants claiming afterwards slight progress toward reconciliation during a meeting that was at times tense.

Both sides said they would continue talks in Bangkok later this month to discuss the removal of land mines and the participation of an observer mission for the withdrawal of troops.

Neang Phat, a military general and chairman of the Cambodian side of the Joint Working Group, said there had been “progress.”

The two sides have been in a military standoff over a plot of land near the temple since July 2008, when the temple was made a Unesco World Heritage site. The International Court of Justice has called for a demilitarized zone on the border and an Asean observer mission, following deadly clashes and heavy arms fire over the years.

Worapong Sanganetra, head of Thailand’s side of the working group, told reporters the meeting had lasted so long because a discussion between the two countries was like one between siblings.