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Hun Sen Expects October Sideline Talks With Thai Premier

Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday he expects to meet his Thai counterpart on the sidelines of an Asia-Europe meeting in October, where the two could discuss ways to resolve the ongoing border dispute near Preah Vihear temple.

Both sides are at loggerheads over a small stretch of land west of the ancient temple, but they only just resumed diplomatic ties that have been suspended since late 2009.

Both sides had withdrawn their ambassadors over a separate incident, when Cambodia hired Thailand's fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic adviser, incensing Bangkok.

Hun Sen told a graduation ceremony of students at the National Education Institution Wednesday that he expected to see Abhisit Vejjajiva on the sidelines of the Brussels meeting as a matter of course.

Other chances to talk could include an Asean summit in Vietnam later in October and a Mekong countries economic meeting in Cambodia in November.

Talks between the two premiers could focus on the border dispute, but also investment, trade, transportation, environmental protection along the border, transnational crime or regional pandemic, Hun Sen said.

Hun Sen said he was disappointed that Thailand still had troops occupying a small pagoda near Preah Vihear temple that is at the heart of the dispute. Thailand claims the pagoda was built on Thai soil. Both sides have reported thousands of troops amassed along the northern border.

“As long as Thai soldiers have not withdrawn from Cambodian territory, the relations are not normal,” he said.

He also stressed the need for a resolution to the ongoing problem, which could require third-party mediation, a step Thailand has said is not necessary.

“Cambodia cannot wait for so long,” Hun Sen said.