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Cambodian, Thai Leaders Seek Peaceful Solution to Temple Dispute

The dispute between Cambodia and Thailand over an ancient temple complex continues to challenge both countries. Cambodia says Thai troops damaged an ancient temple during a recent military clash. The allegation comes after the two governments promised that negotiations to resolve a dispute will resume next month. Rory Byrne has this report from Phnom Penh.

Thailand says its troops are not responsible for damage at the Preah Vihear temple, which sits just inside Cambodia. Soldiers from the two countries clashed there almost two weeks ago.

Cambodia officials say the Thais damaged the temple with rockets.

The dispute over ownership of land leading up to the 900-year-old complex has heated up since July, when Cambodia successfully asked that it be designated a United Nations World Heritage site. On October 15, several soldiers on both sides were injured or killed when fighting erupted.

Late last week, the prime ministers of the two countries met on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe summit in Beijing, and pledged to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.

Cambodian Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh on Sunday described the meeting.

"It was very was very friendly and both prime ministers have agreed together that we have to avoid further clashes among the military that are stationed along the border," Cham said. "And we have to again start increasing the cooperation and the negotiations at all levels."

In 1962, the International Court of Justice ruled the Preah Vihear temple lies in Cambodia, but land surrounding it remains the subject of rival territorial claims.

Cham Prasiddh says the two countries will resume talks on the dispute next week, after the Thai parliament approves a framework for the negotiations. The parliament is expected to discuss the matter Tuesday.