Phnom Penh (ANTARA News/Xinhua-OANA) - Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh said on Tuesday morning that he will meet with his Thai counterpart Prawit Wongsuwon to discuss border dispute on the sidelines of the 5th ASEAN defense ministers meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia.

"There will be a short meeting between Prawit Wongsuwon and I on May 18 in the evening in Jakarta under the preparation of Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro," Tea Banh told reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport before leaving for Indonesia for the 5th ASEAN defense ministers meeting scheduled on May 18-21.

"At that time, we will be talking on border conflict between Cambodia and Thailand," he said.

Clashes erupted between Cambodia and Thailand a week after the disputed Preah Vihear temple was enlisted as World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008, as Thailand claimed of the ownership of 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) of scrub next to the temple.

Since then, both sides have built up military forces along the border and periodic clashes have happened, resulted in the deaths of troops and civilians on both sides.

The two sides agreed to accept Indonesian observers to monitor a ceasefire on their respective border side on February 22 at the ASEAN foreign ministers meeting in Jakarta, but the deployment was always delayed because Thailand demanded that Cambodian soldiers and locals be withdrawn from the disputed area of 4.6 sq km near the temple first.

Tea Banh reiterated Tuesday that Cambodia has never known the area of 4.6 sq km and it cannot withdraw the troops from its own territory.

He added that the General Border Committee meeting between Cambodia and Thailand can be held only if there is the presence of Indonesian observers on Cambodian territory or on Thai territory.

The latest flare-up between Cambodia and Thai troops over the disputed border had occurred from April 22 until May 3 at the 13th century Ta Moan temple and Ta Krabei temple in Oddar Meanchey province, leaving 19 people on both sides killed and nearly 100, 000 civilians fled homes for safe shelters.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Indonesia currently is the chairman of asean and participate actively in efforts to resolve the border conflict between Thailand and Cambodia.(*)

Editor: Jafar M Sidik
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