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Page last updated at 09:29 GMT, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 10:29 UK

Temple row 'to ease after polls'

Cambodian soldiers near the temple on 22 July 2008
The number of soldiers from both sides at the site has increased in recent days

A stand-off involving hundreds of troops at a border temple will ease after Cambodia's general election on Sunday, the Thai prime minister says.

Samak Sundaravej said his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen was using the row to win votes, but added that talks would be easier after the polls.

Troops from both sides are camped on disputed land near Preah Vihear temple.

On Wednesday Cambodia appealed to the UN to resolve the row, after no deal was reached at bilateral talks.

The stand-off erupted after Unesco listed the temple as a Cambodian World Heritage Site, reigniting nationalist tensions on both sides.

'Easier to talk'

Speaking in Bangkok, the Thai leader linked the row to Hun Sen's general election campaign.

"Let them play - they merely want a result for the election on 27 [July]," he told reporters.

Map

Tensions would fall after the polls, he predicted.

"They (the Cambodians) will find it easier to talk ... After the elections, I will talk," he said.

Thai troops moved into an area both sides claim more than a week ago, after Cambodian guards arrested three Thai protesters there.

Since then, both sides have increased their military presence. Several thousand troops are now reported to be in and around the temple area.

The two sides held talks earlier in the week but failed to reach agreement.

The issue will now be discussed at the UN Security Council, Thailand's ambassador to the UN said.

Monks walk through the temple on 21 July 2008
An International Court awarded the temple to Cambodia over 40 years ago

"I have been informed that the UN has included Preah Vihear on the emergency agenda to be discussed at the Security Council meeting tomorrow," Don Pramudwinai told journalists.

Despite the diplomatic furore, the atmosphere at the temple remains calm, according to officials.

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

In Thailand, opposition forces have used the Unesco listing to attack the government - which initially backed the UN move. Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama has resigned over the issue and Mr Samak has also faced calls to quit.

In Cambodia, the listing generated a wave of national pride - which, analysts say, will serve Prime Minister Hun Sen well in Sunday's polls.


SEE ALSO
UN help sought over temple row
22 Jul 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Troop build-up at hill-top temple
17 Jul 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Tranquil temple at centre of a storm
22 May 08 |  Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Preah Vihear
22 May 08 |  In Pictures
Heritage bid unites border rivals
04 Mar 08 |  Special Reports
Country profile: Cambodia
17 Apr 08 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Thailand
15 Jul 08 |  Country profiles


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