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Asia-Pacific

Keep out of temple dispute, Thai army tells government

media Thai villagers take shelter at a makeshift refugee camp during the fighting Reuters/Sukree Sukplang

A Thai soldier was killed Saturday in the second day of cross-border exchanges of gunfire between Thai and Cambodian troops. But Thailand’s military has blocked the country’s government from trying to find a solution to a long-running dispute around the ancient Preah Vihear temple.

Four Thai troops and one Cambodian have been killed in the latest flare-up, which started early Friday. The renewed fighting is adding to the pressure on Thailand to accept third party mediation.

Talks between military commanders from both sides have so far failed. At the same time, there is no diplomatic negotiation, as the Thai army has ruled out any involvement on the part of the civilian government.

A prolonged confrontation serves the interest of the Cambodian government, which has requested the involvement of a third party to mediate peace talks.

At the request of the UN Security Council, Indonesia has proposed to help broker talks and send observers to the area which saw fighting ealier this year.

But the Thai army has rejected the offer, saying that the issue could be settled bilaterally between Thailand and Cambodia.

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