A Change of Guard

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Saturday 30 April 2011

Cambodia seeks World Court clarification [on Preah Vihear temple]

April 30, 2011
The Sydney Morning Herald

Cambodia said yesterday it has asked the World Court to clarify a 1962 ruling about an ancient temple on its disputed border with Thailand as clashes between the neighbours entered an eighth day.

The request ''for the interpretation of the court's judgment … concerning the temple of Preah Vihear'' was prompted by ''Thailand's repeated armed aggression to exert its claims to Cambodian territory'', the Foreign Ministry said.

A clarification by the court was of ''the utmost necessity … in order to peacefully and definitely settle the boundary problem between the two countries in the area'', it said.

Hopes for an end to the bloodiest fighting between the neighbours in decades appeared to have been dashed after fresh clashes broke out hours after a ceasefire deal was struck on Thursday.

One Thai soldier was killed in fresh fighting on the border that shattered the truce, Thailand's army said yesterday. Sporadic fighting erupted just hours after a deal was announced and continued early yesterday, the north-eastern army region spokesman, Colonel Prawit Hookaew, said.

The clashes are centred on two temple complexes about 150 kilometres west of Preah Vihear.

Both countries have blamed each other for sparking the violence.

The International Court of Justice in the Hague ruled more than four decades ago that the 11th-century Preah Vihear belonged to Cambodia, but both countries claim ownership of a 4.6-square-kilometre surrounding area.

The temple - the most celebrated example of Khmer architecture outside Cambodia's Angkor - has been the focus of strained relations between the neighbours since it was granted UN World Heritage status in 2008.

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