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Page last updated at 09:55 GMT, Thursday, 14 August 2008 10:55 UK

Troops 'to leave border temple'

Thai troops at the temple on 2 August 2008
Thai and Cambodian troops have been camping at the temple for a month

Cambodia and Thailand have reached a deal to withdraw most of their troops from territory both claim at a hill-top temple, Cambodian officials say.

The agreement was reached at a meeting of military officers from the two countries on Wednesday.

Only a small contingent from each side would remain at Preah Vihear temple, a top general said.

More than 1,000 troops have been engaged in a stand-off at the ancient site for a month.

An international court awarded the temple to Cambodia in 1962, but land surrounding it remains the subject of rival territorial claims.

The decision by Unesco in June to list Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site reignited lingering tensions over unresolved border disputes between the two countries.

'Avoid confrontation'

The troop withdrawal would take place in the next few days, Cambodian General Neang Phat told journalists.

Map

"Both sides agreed to redeploy the troops, who are stationed in the pagoda, to the lowest possible number in order to avoid confrontation with each other," he said.

Foreign ministers from the two countries will meet early next week for more talks, the general said.

The dispute erupted on 15 July. Thai troops moved into an area both sides claim after Cambodian guards arrested three Thai protesters there. Both sides then rapidly increased their military presence at the site.

Earlier this month, Cambodia accused Thailand of occupying a second border temple, Ta Moan.

The row was fuelled by domestic politics on both sides. Anti-government protest groups in Thailand exploited the issue to attack the ruling coalition, which had initially backed the Unesco listing.

The troop build-up also came just days before a general election in Cambodia - and the temple issue came to dominate the polls.

But tensions now appear to be easing somewhat, with both sides calling for dialogue.




SEE ALSO
Temple row 'to ease after polls'
23 Jul 08 |  Asia-Pacific
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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