Cambodian and Thai defence ministers on Wednesday Apr 29 concluded border talks but said they could not agree to pull back troops from a tense territorial dispute near an ancient temple.
At least seven Thai and Cambodian troops have been killed in recent months in sporadic clashes between the neighbouring countries on disputed land around the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple.
Cambodian defence minister Tea Banh and his Thai counterpart Prawit Wongsuwan began this week’s talks by playing a round of golf in the northwestern tourist hub of Siem Reap on Tuesday.
The pair hailed progress by border negotiators from both countries, but Thailand’s Prawit told reporters after talks finished Wednesday Apr 29 that troops would remain in place until the border was demarcated.
“The issue of troop pullback… from the area near Preah Vihear temple depends on the negotiation related to border demarcation that has not been agreed yet,” Prawit told reporters in a joint press conference.
Tea Banh added that both countries were using all means possible to resolve the border dispute.
Troops from the two countries have been in a border standoff since tensions flared last July, when the cliff-top temple was awarded United Nations World Heritage status.
Ownership of the temple was awarded to Cambodia in 1962 but the two countries are in dispute over five square kilometres (two square miles) of land around it that has yet to be officially demarcated.