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Cambodian PM vows to improve defence, but says no war looming

Cambodia's premier vowed Friday to improve the country's defence capabilities, but insisted there would be no war with Thailand after a deadly firefight fire·fight  
An exchange of gunfire, as between infantry units.
 erupted on their disputed border.

The two sides have agreed to a joint border patrol aimed at preventing a repeat of Wednesday's clashes which killed two Cambodian soldiers near the ancient Preah Vihear Preah Vihear may refer to:
  • Preah Vihear Province, province of Cambodia
  • Prasat Preah Vihear, temple and namesake of the province
 temple, but there was no word on when they would start.

Prime Minister Hun Sen Hun Sen (hn sĕn), 1952–, Cambodian political leader, premier of Cambodia (1985–93, 1998–; second premier, 1993–98).  said that talks remained the best solution to the dispute over land around Preah Vihear, a UN World Heritage site on Cambodian territory and the focus of months of tensions.

"There will be no large-scale armed conflict because the two countries can still be patient," Hun Sen told reporters after meeting with his cabinet.

At the weekly meeting, ministers held a moment of silence for the Cambodian solders who died. Seven Thais were also wounded in the clashes.

"Today our cabinet, with the pride we received from protecting our territory, will discuss draft laws (to put the) national defence sector on top," Hun Sen said, without elaborating on specific steps.

While Thailand has a 300,000-strong armed forces and a well-equipped air force, Cambodia's much smaller military is badly equipped, badly trained and disorganised, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 a Western military official in Bangkok.

Many of their Cold War-era weapons mis-fired during this week's shooting, soldiers along the border said.

Hun Sen also rejected the help of mediators -- a U-turn from Cambodia's position earlier this year when officials spoke about bringing the land dispute to the United Nations Security Council.

"I think that it is not time yet (for mediated me·di·ate  
v. me·di·at·ed, me·di·at·ing, me·di·ates
1. To resolve or settle (differences) by working with all the conflicting parties:
 talks) because Cambodia and Thailand agreed to resume negotiations within existing mechanisms," Hun Sen told reporters.

Thai and Cambodian military officials met Thursday to try to calm the situation after the clashes, but there were few results from the meeting apart from an agreement in principle to jointly patrol the disputed areas.

"Today we received the order to be well-prepared. The joint patrols have not yet been put in practice," said Cambodian Major Menly, who oversees more than 100 troops at the frontlines of the disputed border.

Thai and Cambodian soldiers appeared more relaxed Friday, with some even stashing way their rifles and rocket launchers.

"The situation is less tense," Thai border task force commander Major General Kanok Netrakavaesana said.

The eruption eruption /erup·tion/ (e-rup´shun)
1. the act of breaking out, appearing, or becoming visible, as eruption of the teeth.

 of violence this week came after talks on Monday about the border dispute ended in failure, with Hun Sen warning of armed conflict and the Thai army saying it was prepared for a confrontation.

Troops began massing on both sides of the border, while Thailand sent tanks and heavy weaponry to the area and put fighter jets on stand-by.

After the clash, the United Nations, United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area.  and European Union European Union (EU), name given since the ratification (Nov., 1993) of the Treaty of European Union, or Maastricht Treaty, to the

European Community
 heaped pressure on Thailand and Cambodia to exercise restraint, and leaders in both nations said they were committed to avoiding further conflict.

But the neighbours have blamed each other for starting the violence.

Thailand has also accused Cambodia of planting landmines which injured in·jure  
tr.v. in·jured, in·jur·ing, in·jures
1. To cause physical harm to; hurt.

2. To cause damage to; impair.

 two Thai troops on the border earlier this month, breaching the international treaty banning the use of landmines, which Thailand and Cambodia have signed.

Officials in Cambodia, however, deny that they were fresh mines, and said they were remnants from their three-decade long civil war.

The current standoff stand·off  
1. A tie or draw, as in a contest.

2. A situation in which one force neutralizes or counterbalances the other.

3. A standoff insulator.

 first flared flare  
v. flared, flar·ing, flares

1. To flame up with a bright, wavering light.

2. To burst into intense, sudden flame.

 in July after Preah Vihear was awarded heritage status, angering some Thai nationalists who claim ownership of the site.

The situation quickly escalated into a military confrontation, with up to 1,000 Cambodian and Thai troops facing off for six weeks, although both sides in August agreed to reduce troop numbers in the main disputed area.

The Cambodian-Thai border has never been fully demarcated, in part because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia.
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Publication:AFP Global Edition
Date:Oct 17, 2008
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