Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thai-Cambodian border tensions ease after plaque removed

Jan 27, 2011

Bangkok - Tensions eased along the Thai-Cambodian border Thursday after troops from both countries jointly destroyed a concrete plaque placed in a disputed area by Cambodian forces.

The red and gold plaque, with the English inscription 'Here! Is Cambodia,' had been erected at the weekend on orders from the Cambodian foreign ministry, Thai border forces quoted their Cambodian counterparts as saying.

It triggered a fresh wave of tension along the border, with both sides reinforcing their troops near the disputed Preah Vihear temple.

The temple, on a high cliff on the border between Thailand's Si Sa Ket province and Cambodia's Preah Vihear province, has been a bone of contention between the two countries for more than half a century.

In 1962, the International Court of Justice awarded the temple to Cambodia, but did not rule on a nearby plot of land, also claimed by both countries.

Thai ultra-nationalists have recently revived the issue, accusing the Cambodians of border incursions.

Officers from both sides agreed Wednesday that the sign was a violation of previous border agreements and demolished it.

'The situation along the Thai-Cambodian border today is back to normal,' Thai army deputy spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Sirichan Ngathong said Thursday. 'There is no major movement of troops.'

Earlier this week both countries had put their border forces on full alert and Thailand announced it would conduct live-fire military exercises near the disputed border region.

Sirichan said the exercises had now been scaled back to a 'routine exercise' normally conducted by Thai forces in February-April.

She confirmed that the plaque had been removed from the disputed area by Cambodian troops, and military authorities on both sides of the border now enjoy 'a good relationship.'


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