Border soldiers keep their enemies closer

Border soldiers keep their enemies closer

MILITARY MOOD CORDIAL AHEAD OF ICJ JUDGEMENT

Thai and Cambodian soldiers stationed near Preah Vihear temple have pledged to eat and play sport together more often to help ease tensions along the border.

FRIENDS FOR NOW: Capt Amphol Srina, right, shakes hands with Cambodia’s Capt Tia Na Won at Ta Thao border pass in Si Sa Ket.

Soldiers on both sides have played down fears of violence after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) rules tomorrow to clarify who owns the disputed 4.6km2 patch of land which surrounds the temple.

Capt Amphol Srina of the Suranaree Task Force has met Cambodia's Capt Tia Na Won at the Ta Thao border pass in Kantharalak district of Si Sa Ket.

They met at a spot about 800m from Preah Vihear.

Capt Amphol said at the meeting they discussed problems on the ground and ways to prevent any misunderstandings from tomorrow's ruling resulting in border hostility.

He said the Thai and Cambodian soldiers normally have lunch together on Saturdays. They now plan to meet more often.

"When any issue crops up, we talk to each other over the phone immediately, so there will be no problem," Capt Amphol told Cambodian officers at the meeting.

Cambodian Lt Yim Yuen also said he did not think there would be any border fighting.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed troops to exercise restraint, urging them to live on the border alongside Thai soldiers "like brothers".

Troops from the two countries often eat and play sport together.

"When we had wild boar and mushrooms, we shared it and we sat around together and ate," Capt Amphol said.

Sgt Maj Pradit Khonpian, who is stationed at the Ta Thao border pass, said the border situation remained calm ahead of the ICJ ruling.

He said relations between soldiers on both sides of the border were friendly.

Meanwhile, Second Army commander Charnchai Poothong said he is due for a meeting with Cambodia's Fifth Army chief Chea Mon today to map out ways to tighten military ties.

He said both sides will stress the need to conduct border affairs peacefully regardless of tomorrow's ICJ ruling.

"We've already made clear how we can live alongside each other in a way that won't cause misunderstanding," Lt Gen Charnchai said.

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