BANGKOK, June 5 — Thailand’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has denied accusations made by the Cambodian government that Thai military aircraft had violated that country’s airspace recently, said Thani Thongpakdi, director-general of the Ministry’s Information Department, on Sunday.
Mr Thani told journalists that the Cambodian foreign ministry had sent a protest letter to the Thai government as well as informing the Thai ambassador in Phnom Penh that Thai military aircraft had repeatedly violated its airspace recently and that Thailand planned another offensive against Cambodian territory.
The accusations were groundless, Mr Thani said.
He said the Thai foreign affairs ministry had inquired on the issue with the Thai military and was informed that Thai military planes had never intruded into Cambodian territory.
However, the ministry will send a letter to the Cambodian government denying the charges, he added.
The protest letter, issued by Cambodia’s foreign ministry and handed to the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh yesterday, charged that Thai military aircraft intruded into Cambodian airspace over Poi Pet on May 31.
It said that a Thai L-19 military aircraft again violated Cambodia’s airspace over Thmor Pouk district on Wednesday while two days later, on June 3, a Thai soldier flew on a private aircraft and conducted unspecified activities over Battambang province.
“While remaining committed to exercising utmost restraint in order to avoid further armed clashes between the two armed forces, Cambodia reserves its legitimate rights to self-defense and to safeguarding its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the protest note said.
Relations between the two neighbouring countries have cooled in recent years after UNESCO named the ancient Preah Vihear temple a World Heritage site in July 2008 after Cambodia applied for the status. The country also submitted a management plan for the temple to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee which has deferred making a decision.
Bloody clashes have occurred along the poorly demarcated border occasionally as both countries claim a 4.6-square-kilometre patch of land near the 11th century temple. (MCOT online news)