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Cambodia reports Thai incursions to U.N.

  • Story Highlights
  • Cambodia: Letter to Security Council meant to 'draw attention to crisis'
  • The two countries agreed to meet Monday to defuse tensions
  • Both Cambodia and Thailand lay claim to 11th century Preah Vihear temple
  • The International Court of Justice awarded the temple to Cambodia in 1962
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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (CNN) -- Cambodia has sent a letter to the United Nations Security Council to call attention to its continuing standoff with Thailand over an ancient border temple on disputed land.

A group of Cambodian Boy Scouts walk through Preah Vihear temple.

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

The country is not asking for U.N. intervention, said Information Minister Kheu Kanharith. Rather, the letter that Cambodia's permanent mission in New York submitted to the chairmen of the Security Council and the General Assembly is meant to draw attention to a crisis that entered its sixth day Sunday.

The two countries agreed to meet Monday to defuse tensions -- even as each side continued to amass more troops to the site of the Preah Vihear temple.

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. Thailand claims, however, that the 1.8 square mile (4.6 sq. km) area around it was never fully demarcated.

Thailand further says that the dispute arose from the fact that the Cambodian government used a map drawn during the French occupation of Cambodia that places both the temple and the surrounding area in that country's territory.

Earlier this month, 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.

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 three refused to leave the territory.

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Cambodia claims Thailand sent troops to retrieve the trio and gradually built up their numbers.

Thailand denies the charge, saying its troops are deployed in Thai territory. Each side has asked its troops to withhold fire unless they are fired upon.


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.

-- Journalist Soeum Yin contributed to this report

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