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Cambodia To Seek Asean Monitors at Border

The stone remains of Preah Vihear, built nearly 1,000 years ago, are supposed to be a protected U.N. World Heritage site. Instead they are at the heart of a dangerous tug-of-war between Cambodia and Thailand.

Cambodia will seek Asean monitors near Preah Vihear temple and in subsequent border talks, when regional foreign ministers meet in Jakarta next week, a senior official said.

Returning from an address to the UN Security Council this week, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters Wednesday he will ask Asean to send monitors to ensure no more clashes occur between Cambodia and Thailand on the border.

The Security Council on Monday encouraged Thailand and Cambodia to enter a permanent ceasefire after heavy fighting on the border earlier this month. It also encouraged Asean arbitration in the longstanding border feud.

Cambodian officials have said seven people were killed, including two civilians, in clashes that also damaged Preah Vihear temple between Feb. 4 and Feb. 7.

“I will request Asean observers to the border dispute area between Cambodia and Thailand to monitor a ceasefire and ensure that a permanent ceasefire is implemented,” Hor Namhong said Wednesday.

He also said Cambodia must discuss the dispute with Thailand but that those discussions now need a third party mediator such as Asean. When foreign ministers meet in Jakarta on Feb. 22, he will request that an Asean representative be present for all border discussions between the two sides.

“We will wait and see if Thailand accepts this suggestion or not,” he said. “We should know the real ambitions of Thailand.”

Thai officials have said they want to resolve the dispute bilaterally.

Cambodian officials have meanwhile accused Thailand of firing mortars and machine guns at Cambodia in recent days. Thailand says Cambodian soldiers have been shooting at Thai troops. Neither claim has been independently verified.