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Cambodian Complains of Thai Aggression Before World Court

Cambodia's Deputy PM and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong, right, and Franklin Berman, member of the English Bar, left, talk at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, May 30, 2011

Cambodia's foreign minister has told the International Court of Justice in The Hague that Thai aggression is to blame for a recent series of deadly border clashes between the countries.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong urged judges in the Netherlands-based court on Monday to settle a territorial dispute over land around the ancient Preah Vihear temple, which led to clashes that killed at least 10 people in February. Another 18 died in fighting last month near another ancient temple complex about 150 kilometers farther west.

Hor Namhong is asking the court during the two-day hearing to rule that a 4.6-square-kilometer area around the temple is Cambodian territory. The same court ruled in 1962 that the temple itself is in Cambodia, but remained vague about the surrounding land.

Bangkok officials say Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, backed by an international team of lawyers, will tell the court later Monday that Thailand has never questioned the 1962 ruling itself. But he is expected to argue that by agreeing in 2000 to establish a joint boundary committee, Cambodia has admitted that the border itself is unclear, and that the boundary committee should settle the issue rather than the court.

Cambodia is also asking the court to order an immediate withdrawal of Thai forces from land around the temple and to ban Thai military activity in the area. A ruling on that request could come within two to three weeks, while a final decision on the case is not expected until early next year.