Cambodia called for outside help to resolve its border dispute with Thailand, as the US lent its support to a regional solution following a UN order to remove troops from the frontier.
Premier Hun Sen said Cambodia was ready to hold tripartite talks with Thailand and Indonesia, chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as both neighbors appeared reluctant to act first to comply with the court ruling.
The Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Monday said both countries should remove their forces immediately from the area around the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple, the scene of deadly clashes earlier this year.
But neither country has yet to withdraw its soldiers and statements from both sides seem to rule out any imminent action.
Thailand earlier this week said talks with Cambodia would precede any military pullout, while Phnom Penh has demanded third party observers must be sent to the border.
On Friday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said ASEAN would be the best forum for the pair to resolve their differences. Both sides should refrain “from taking steps that would escalate into violence,” she said during ASEAN meetings on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.
Both sides have stressed that troop withdrawal must be simultaneous.
Cambodia asked the court for an interpretation of a 1962 ruling on the Preah Vihear temple in April. It then also asked for Thailand to be ordered to withdraw troops.
Although Thailand does not dispute Cambodia’s ownership of the temple, both Phnom Penh and Bangkok claim the 4.6-square-kilometer (1.8-square-mile) area surrounding the ancient complex.
In February, 10 people were killed in fighting at the temple site and fresh clashes broke out further west in April, leaving 18 dead and prompting 85,000 civilians to flee.