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Cambodia, Thailand border row escalates

  • Story Highlights
  • Both agreed to meet as each side deployed more troops to Preah Vihear temple
  • Both Cambodia and Thailand lay claim to the 11th century temple
  • The International Court of Justice awarded the temple to Cambodia in 1962
  • Current row began when Cambodia briefly held 3 Thais who crossed into the area
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(CNN) -- Thailand and Cambodia have called for dialogue as tensions continued to escalate over an ancient border temple on disputed land.

A Cambodian flag flutters above Preah Vihear temple on the Cambodian-Thai border.

Cambodian soldiers stand guard near Preah Vihear temple, close to the Thai border.

The countries agreed to meet Monday even as each side deployed more troops to the site of the Preah Vihear temple, the national Thai News Agency reported Thursday.

Both Cambodia and Thailand lay claim to the 11th century temple, which sits atop a cliff on Cambodian soil but has its most accessible entrance on the Thai side.

The International Court of Justice awarded the temple to Cambodia in 1962, but the 1.8 square mile (4.6 sq. km) area around it was never fully demarcated.

Last week, the United Nations approved Cambodia's application to have the temple listed as a World Heritage Site -- places the U.N. says have outstanding universal value.

The decision re-ignited tensions, with some in Thailand fearing it will make it difficult for their country to lay claim to disputed land around the temple.

Opposition parties in Thailand used the issue to attack the government, which initially backed the heritage listing. Video Watch Thai villagers block anti-government demonstrators »

A Thai court overturned the pact, prompting the resignation of Thailand's foreign minister, Noppadon Pattama. He had endorsed the application.

Cambodia, meanwhile, is preparing for general elections on July 27. And Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has been in power since the mid-1980s, has portrayed the U.N. recognition as a national triumph.

The current flare-up began Tuesday, when Cambodian guards briefly detained three Thais who crossed into the area. Once they were let go, the trio refused to leave the territory, the Thai News Agency said.

The Cambodian state-run news agency, AKP, said that Thailand sent troops to retrieve the men and gradually built up their numbers.

Thailand denies the charge, saying its troops are deployed in Thai territory.

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The standoff continued Thursday, with each side asking troops to withhold fire unless they are fired upon, the news agencies said.

Thailand has put its Air Force on standby to evacuate its nationals from Cambodia if tensions worsen, TNA said.


So far, the only casualty has been a Thai soldier who was injured Tuesday by a landmine -- possibly left over from the time the Khmer Rouge occupied the area.

The Khmer Rouge, a radical communist movement that ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, won power through a guerrilla war. It is remembered for the deaths of as many as 1.5 million Cambodians.

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