CHA-AM (PHETCHBURI), Thailand, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) --
Foreign Ministers from Thailand and Cambodia met Monday at a central Thai resort
for a second-round ministerial talks on a border dispute.
Thai Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag greeted his
Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong and the two had a diner together Monday
evening at a hotel in Cha-am district, Phetchburi province in central Thailand,
some 220 kilometers southwest Bangkok, near the beach resort town Hua Hin.
The meeting was to start officially on Tuesday
morning here, ina bid to find a peaceful solution to a long border dispute
regarding areas around the ancient Khmer-style Hindu temple of Preah Vihear, the
11th-century ruins listed recently as World Heritage, and to lay down
foundations for future cooperation on demarcation and demining work along a
4.6-sq kilometers disputed border area.
Thai Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag (R) shakes hands with his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong in Cha-am PHETCHBURIdistrict, Phetchburi province in central Thailand, some 220 kilometers southwest Bangkok, Thailand, Aug. 18, 2008. Foreign Ministers from Thailand and Cambodia met Monday at a central Thai resort for a second-round ministerial talks on a border dispute.(Xinhua Photo/Shen Min)
Taking apart in the meeting also include Lt. Gen
Sujit Sithiparpa, Thailand's Second Army Commander who is responsible for
security in the northeastern region including the disputed area, and his
Cambodian counterpart Gen. Chea Mon, Cambodia's Fourth Army Commander.
As a good gesture ahead of the talks, the two sides
began pulling out their troops, believed at over 1,000 from each side earlier,
stationed around the Preah Vihear Temple, which sits at the border between Thai
northeastern province of Si Sa Ket and Cambodia's Preah Vihear province.
Only about ten soldiers from each side remain at a
pagoda near the Preah Vihear temple now after the pull-out since Saturday, and
some 20 others from each at areas nearby for patrol.
The military stand-off, which has seen a quick
increase of military personnel along the disputed border zone by each side,
started after three Thais, including a monk, were briefly detained by Cambodian
authorities on July 15 for "intruding Cambodian territory" by breaking into the
Preah Vihear temple compound to declare Thai sovereignty over the temple.
The temple was awarded to Cambodia in a 1962 verdict
of the International Court of Justice, which some Thais have been reluctant to
accept. The dispute became a hot issue when Cambodia launched efforts to bid for
the listing of the temple as a World Heritage Site last year.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee approved Cambodia's
application early last month, triggering a wave of national sentiment in
Thailand urging the Thai government to take counter actions in defense of
Then Thai foreign minister Noppadon Pattama was
forced to resign last month for signing a joint communique to endorse Thai
support for Cambodia's World Heritage bid without prior parliament approval,
which was later held unconstitutional. Veteran diplomat Tej was appointed as the
successor just in time for the first ministerial talks on July 28 in Siem Reap,
Cambodia, which produced no breakthrough but an agreement to reduce military
deployment along the disputed border.
Thai Foreign Ministry officials reiterated to Xinhua
that the Thai side did not instigate the situation by deploying more troops to
the disputed area around the Preah Vihear temple, but that Thai authorities had
sent letters to Cambodian government a few times to protest the setting up of
Cambodian communities around the disputed border area in breach of a Memorandum
of Understanding signed by two sides in 2000, which was long before the July 15
The Cambodian authorities had not acted in response
to Thailand' protests, the Thai officials said.
On Monday morning, Thai Prime Minister Samak
Sundaravej and Army chief General Anupong Paochinda inspected border points near
the Preah Vihear temple.
Thai Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag (front R) meets with his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong (front L) in Cha-am district, Phetchburi Province in central Thailand, some 220 kilometers southwest of Bangkok, Aug. 18, 2008. Foreign Ministers from Thailand and Cambodia met Monday at the central Thai resort for a second-round ministerial talks on a border dispute.(Xinhua Photo/Shen Min)
Reports from Phnom Penh quoted Cambodian Foreign
Minister Hor Namhong as saying before leaving for Thailand on Monday that he was
optimistic about the second bilateral meeting "to seek peaceful resolution to
withdraw the troops totally from the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara Pagoda and the
surrounding areas of the Preah Vihear Temple."
Following the meeting, Hor Namhong will also be
granted an audience by the Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej Tuesday afternoon at the
royal summer palace in Hua Hin, where the King now resides, before going back to