About Ta Moan Thom's sovereignty: Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh disagreed with Thai army commander Gen. Anupong Paojindasaid
- From: Chim <ChimS1@xxxxxxx>
- Date: Tue, 5 Aug 2008 05:01:23 -0700 (PDT)
Cambodia demands Thai troops pull back
By KER MUNTHIT, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 15 minutes ago
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - Cambodia on Tuesday demanded that Thailand pull
its troops back from a second temple site along their border, the
latest in a series of territorial claims and counterclaims that have
prompted armed tensions between the Asian neighbors.
The dispute surrounding the 13th century Ta Moan Thom temple started
when Cambodian officials said some 70 Thai soldiers started occupying
the temple site last week and prevented Cambodian troops from
entering. Thai military officials countered that their troops had been
in the area for years.
It is located several hundred miles west of the 11th century Preah
Vihear temple, where Cambodian and Thai soldiers have been locked in a
standoff for three weeks in a dispute over nearby land.
Thai army commander Gen. Anupong Paojindasaid said Tuesday the temple
is within "Thai territory."
Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh, however, said the temple "is
clearly under our sovereignty, and we have to demand it back."
"Our position is to try to talk to them (Thai troops) and get them to
withdraw to where they came from," Cambodia's Tea Banh told reporters
Cambodian Maj. Ho Bunthy, an army commander in the area, said Tuesday
about 50 Cambodian soldiers were stationed near the Thai troops and
another 200 deployed about 330 yards from the temple site.
Thailand's Lt. Gen. Niphat Thonglek, chief of the Border Affairs
Department, said Tuesday the Cambodian troops were normally allowed to
enter the site because they usually came in small groups and they were
"Over the weekend, about 40 to 50 of them came and they were armed, so
the Thai troops did not allow them in," said Niphat.
Ta Moan Thom temple was built in the 13th century as a rest house
along a road linking the ancient city of Angkor with what is currently
northeastern Thailand, said Chuch Phoeun of the Cambodian Ministry of
That dispute erupted last month near the Hindu-style Preah Vihear when
UNESCO approved Cambodia's application to have the complex named a
World Heritage Site. Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej had backed
the bid, sparking anti-government demonstrations by Thais near the
temple. Thailand then sent troops to the border area.
Thai government critics say the temple's new status will jeopardize
their country's claims to land adjacent to the site.
About 800 troops from Cambodia and 400 from Thailand remain at a
pagoda near the temple complex, despite a tentative agreement reached
by foreign ministers last week to redeploy them in an effort to ease
Anupong, the Thai army chief, said the Thai troops were waiting for
orders from the government.
Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said new talks with
Thailand will have to wait until after a new government takes office
in Phnom Penh following elections last month.
In 1962, the International Court of Justice awarded Preah Vihear to
Cambodia. The decision still rankles many Thais even though the temple
is culturally Cambodian, sharing the Hindu-influenced style of the
more famous Angkor complex.
Although it is not as well known as the Angkor or Preah Vihear
temples, Ta Moan Thom is another of the architectural wonders of the
ancient Khmer empire.
Associated Press writer Ambika Ahuja in Bangkok contributed to this
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