Cambodia warns Thailand its patience wearing thin over border spat

A meeting between the Thai and Cambodian foreign ministers over an ongoing border dispute led to pledges for further meetings but a warning from Cambodia that its patience was finite, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said Monday.

Hor Namhong and his Thai counterpart Sompong Amornviwat met for several hours but achieved little more than a promise of a joint border task force meeting for late October, the Cambodian side said.

However, Hor Namhong said he had warned Sompong that although Cambodia understood Thailand's ongoing internal strife, the issue must be quickly resolved or Cambodia would abandon bilateral talks and go to a mediator such as the International Court in The Hague, reported dpa.

"We asked the Thai government to solve the border dispute completely and in appropriate time. I again and again urged the Thai government not to delay," Hor Namhong told a press conference.

Cambodia closed the border at the 11th century Preah Vihear temple in June ahead of its own national elections as anti-Thai government protesters gathered on the Thai side of the border.

Shortly after the temple was declared a Cambodian World Heritage site by UNESCO in July over Thai objections, Thai troops entered what they claim is disputed territory and Cambodia says is sovereign. The dispute later spread to two more border temples.

At least one Cambodian soldier and two Thai troops were wounded when units exchanged gunfire during a brief clash on October 3 near Preah Vihear temple and two more Thai soldiers were also seriously injured last week after stepping on a landmine near the ruins.

Talks to discuss withdrawing troops from around Preah Vihear were postponed in late August amid political turmoil in Thailand but Hor Namhong said the two sides had reached an agreement in principal to withdraw troops Monday, although nothing was signed.

Sompong, who is scheduled to pay a courtesy visit to King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen before his return to Bangkok Monday evening declined to comment to reporters after the meeting.

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