Page last updated at 11:14 GMT, Thursday, 17 July 2008 12:14 UK

Troop build-up at hill-top temple

An armed Cambodian soldier stands in front of Preah Vihear temple on 17 July 2008
About 1,200 troops are now stationed near Preah Vihear temple

Cambodia and Thailand moved more troops into an ancient border temple, as a stand-off triggered by a territorial dispute entered its third day.

Four hundred Thai troops and 800 Cambodian soldiers are now stationed at Preah Vihear temple, a Cambodian military chief said.

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen urged his Thai counterpart, Samak Sundaravej, to withdraw his troops in a letter.

The two sides have agreed to hold talks on the issue early next week.

The International Court of Justice awarded Preah Vihear to Cambodia in 1962, but areas around it remain the subject of rival territorial claims.

Two weeks ago Unesco listed the temple as a Cambodian World Heritage Site, reigniting nationalist tensions, particularly in Thailand.

Opposition forces there have been using the issue to attack the government - which initially backed the heritage listing.

'Very bad for relations'

Military leaders from both sides say troops have been ordered not to use force unless attacked.


Government officials, meanwhile, have confirmed that defence ministers from the two countries will discuss the dispute on Monday.

In a letter to the Thai prime minister, Hun Sen called for the immediate withdrawal of Thai troops and protesters from the area.

He said the row was "very bad for relations between our two countries", reported Reuters news agency.

The stand-off began on Tuesday, when Cambodian guards arrested three Thai protesters.

Thai troops then began crossing the border, Cambodia said. Thai military officials say their troops are deployed in Thai territory.

Fearful local residents are reported to have vacated the site.

So far, however, the only casualty of the stand-off is a Thai soldier injured by a landmine - probably left over from when the Khmer Rouge occupied the site.

And in a sign of divisions within Thailand over the issue, several hundred local villagers blocked a group of protesters from marching to the temple on Thursday morning.

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