Thailand and Cambodia agreed in principle Monday to scale back troops on their disputed border following a deadly military confrontation near an ancient temple last year.
Foreign ministers from both countries met in the Cambodian capital to restart stalled talks and set a schedule for future meetings on demarcating the frontier near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple to avoid future armed clashes.
“The priority and the urgent issue is to demarcate the area near Preah Vihear temple and the scale down of troops,” Cambodia’s Foreign minister Hor Namhong said.
In October, troops exchanged fire, leaving two Cambodian soldiers dead and 10 from both sides wounded. A Thai soldier died later from wounds sustained during the clash.
The countries’ Joint Border Commission will meet February 2 to discuss border demarcation, followed by a meeting of defense ministers February 6.
“Defense ministers will discuss reducing the number of troops at the border,” said Thai Foreign Ministry Spokesman Tharit Charungvat.
The fighting in October was the latest flare-up in a decades-old dispute over a stretch of jungle near the Preah Vihear temple. The World Court awarded the temple to Cambodia in 1962, but sovereignty over the surrounding land has never been clearly resolved.
The two countries share a 500-mile (800-kilometer) land border, much of which has never been clearly demarcated because the countries refer to different maps.
Talks were delayed by Thailand’s internal political crisis, which eased in December with the arrival of new prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.