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Thai Prime Minister Promises Talks With Cambodia


Thailand's prime minister said Saturday he is prepared to meet with his Cambodian counterpart to resolve a deadly border dispute.

But Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat has not said when a meeting with his Cambodian counterpart, Hun Sen, might occur.

Mr. Somchai says he will not resign despite army chief Anupong Paojinda's suggestion he do so during a television interview earlier this week.

Cambodian and Thai military commanders met on their disputed border Saturday to discuss ways to avoid clashes, after deadly gunfights this week.

A deadly gunfight between Cambodian and Thai soldiers erupted Wednesday along the disputed area near a centuries-old temple. Two Cambodian soldiers were killed in the shootout, and soldiers from each side were wounded. Cambodia claimed to have captured some Thai troops.

Surrounded by dozens of soldiers in full combat gear, Cambodian Major General Srey Deok and Thai Colonel Chayan Huaysoongnern discussed how to prevent future flare-ups of violence. After their meeting, the two ate lunch together.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said the border clash would not escalate into a wider conflict.

The prime minister told reporters in Phnom Penh Friday the two rivals have agreed to resolve the dispute directly, rejecting the need for an outside mediator to negotiate a settlement.

Military officials from both sides reached an agreement Thursday to conduct joint military patrols along the border.

Wednesday's fighting took place near the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple, the center of the decades-old land dispute.

In 1962, the International Court of Justice granted sovereignty of the temple to Cambodia, but it did not rule on the surrounding land.

Troops have been building up on both sides of the border since July, when the United Nations approved Cambodia's application to make the temple a World Heritage site. The honor enraged Thai nationalists.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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