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Thailand Cancels Ceasefire Talks with Cambodia

A man walks through rubles at the destroyed silk factory following the clash between Thailand and Cambodia in Surin province, northeastern Thailand, April 27, 2011

A man walks through rubles at the destroyed silk factory following the clash between Thailand and Cambodia in Surin province, northeastern Thailand, April 27, 2011

Thailand has canceled plans for ceasefire talks with Cambodia, scuttling hopes for an early end to the worst fighting along their disputed border in decades. Each side blames the other for the breakdown and clashes that have killed 14 people since Friday, including at least one civilian.

The abrupt pull-out deflates hopes for a truce to end a deadly border fight.

Thai Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan was to meet in Phnom Penh with his Cambodian counterpart, Tea Banh to discuss ending a week of clashes between their militaries.

But, as shelling between the two sides continued in the early morning, Thai authorities canceled the negotiations.

Thai media reports quote an army spokesman saying they called off the talks after Cambodian media claimed victory over a defeated Thailand.

However, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Prawit had conflicting meetings in China and blamed Cambodia for not creating the right atmosphere for talks.

He says Cambodia wants to talk but does not stop attacking, so it is difficult to negotiate. He says Thailand’s defense minister had to go to China for scheduled meetings and is there now. He says Thailand wants to hold talks, but Cambodia must first stop its attacks.

Abhisit’s comments were made to reporters while traveling Wednesday in the border province, Surin, to visit the wounded.

Thai authorities say the first Thai civilian was killed overnight in this latest round of clashes.

Wednesday, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen called again for peace talks.

Cambodia says Thai troops are responsible for the ongoing hostilities, which have sent tens of thousands of villagers on both sides fleeing the border.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong says the border is still tense because Thai troops keep attacking Cambodia. He says Thailand should honor an agreement to allow Indonesian observers to be sent to the border.

"They refuse to accept the presence of Indonesian observers along the border. They always reject and then they start to fight us and they accuse us to fight them first," said Kuong.

Indonesia brokered an agreement to send its observers to help restore peace, but the process has stalled because of objections from the Thai military.

Cambodia wants international assistance to end the conflict while Thailand says it must be resolved bilaterally.

The fighting began Friday when Thai and Cambodian soldiers exchanged fire near disputed temples along the border.

Clashes also erupted Tuesday, near a 900-year-old Khmer Hindu temple called Preah Vihear in Cambodia and Phra Viharn in Thailand.

The two countries fought there for four days in February, killing several people on both sides.

It is not clear what started the skirmishes, but each side blames the other.

The border between Cambodia and Thailand is poorly defined and both claim territory around the temples.

Politicians on both sides have been accused of using the dispute to raise nationalist sentiment.