Cambodia Will Not ‘Wage War’ with Thailand over Border

PHNOM PENH ~ Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen repeated on Thursday that his country would not “wage war” with neighboring Thailand over a long-running border dispute that erupted into violence last month.

The premier urged patience from both sides as negotiators attempt to demarcate an agreed border between them.

“We don’t want to wage war. We want only peace, but please don’t trespass,” Hun Sen said. “What we want is patience, no war,” he said.

Hun Sen said a military standoff on the border had eased since an October 15 shootout that claimed four lives.

But he warned Cambodia would act in “self defense if needed.”

“Not only our side but also our opponents should not try to benefit from blood and human life,” he added.

Thai and Cambodian officials agreed in principle in a meeting last week to reduce troops at the disputed border and to form a border task force. They plan to meet again in January.

They also agreed to start delimiting the border area around the 11th century Preah Vihear temple from mid-December, where troops have been facing off since July.

Shortly after similar talks between the foreign ministers failed last month, troops from the two countries clashed on October 15 on disputed land near the ancient Khmer temple, killing one Thai and three Cambodians.

The Cambodian-Thai border has never been fully demarcated, in part because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia.

The most recent tensions began in July when the Khmer temple was awarded United Nations World Heritage status, rekindling a long-running disagreement over ownership of the surrounding land.

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