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ASEAN Envoy Seeks to End Thai-Cambodia Clashes

A weapon is placed on the stone at the entrance of Cambodia's famed Preah Vihear temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site, in Preah Vihear province, about 245 kilometers (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, February 8, 2011

Indonesia's foreign minister is in Bangkok for talks aimed at ending border clashes between Thailand and Cambodia that have killed and wounded dozens of people since Friday.

The border area near Preah Vihear temple, where troops exchanged automatic weapons and artillery fire for four straight days, was reported quiet but tense on Tuesday, with villages on either side of the border largely emptied of their residents.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, current chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, had a meeting scheduled Tuesday in Bangkok with his Thai counterpart, Kasit Piromya. A day earlier in Cambodia, he stressed that as ASEAN moves toward a single community by 2015, "the guns must be silent in Southeast Asia."

Both the Cambodian and Thai governments have written to the United Nations Security Council, and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has asked to have U.N. peacekeepers dispatched to the area. But a spokesman said in New York Monday that the council will await the outcome of Natalegawa's mediation efforts.

Each side has blamed the other for starting the fighting, which began Friday and continued intermittently through Monday morning. At least seven people are reported dead, making it the most serious fighting since Preah Vihear was declared a World Heritage Site in 2008.

The 900-year-old Hindu temple was awarded to Cambodia by the World Court in 1962, but a 4.6-square-kilometer area surrounding it remains in dispute. Cambodia claims a wing of the temple collapsed after being hit by Thai artillery on Sunday.

Tensions between the countries were further inflamed last week when a prominent Thai nationalist and his secretary were sentenced to lengthy prison terms in Cambodia on espionage charges. Thousands of nationalist "Yellow Shirt" protesters have been demonstrating in Bangkok demanding that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva resign over the matter.