Cambodia, Thai border talks postponed due to Bangkok protests

Other News Materials 28 August 2008 09:42 (UTC +04:00)

Informal talks between Bangkok and Phnom Penh over disputed border areas were halted abruptly and scheduled formal talks postponed indefinitely amid political tension in Thailand, a Cambodian official said Thursday.

Defence Ministry Secretary of State Neang Phat said the Thai delegation arrived Wednesday in Siem Reap, 300 kilometres north of Phnom Penh, and the two sides had talked amicably before formal talks scheduled for Friday were abruptly cancelled.

"We had prepared all the documents," Phat said. "Then a call came and they asked for the meeting to be delayed. They didn't say why but we can assume. This is Thailand's business, not ours."

Phat was referring to the ongoing anti-government protests in Bangkok by the Thai opposition People's Alliance for Democracy movement, which escalated Tuesday.

Phat said no new date had been set for a resumption of joint talks over border areas around the newly listed UNESCO World Heritage site of Preah Vihear temple, as well as the Ta Moan temple complex 150 kilometres to its west.

Thailand maintains the sovereignty of the areas is disputed but Phnom Penh claims the territory belongs to Cambodia. Several rounds of bilateral talks so far have failed to break the impasse.

Cambodia closed the border to Thailand at Preah Vihear, north of Siem Reap, in June after Thai protesters gathered in the area, saying it feared trouble with Cambodian settlers.

On July 7 UNESCO granted the 11th-century hilltop Hindu temple World Heritage status over protests by Thailand. Thai troops moved into nearby areas a week later, severely straining relations between the neighbours, dpa reported.