Cambodia calls for UN aid in Thai border clash

Thailand accused Cambodia of refusing to negotiate to resolve a border dispute that led to the fourth day of clashes yesterday, as Phnom Penh said only UN peacekeepers can stop the fighting near an 11th century temple.

Cambodia claims the crumbling stone temple - classified as a World Heritage site - has been heavily damaged during several bursts of artillery fire over four days. The fighting has killed at least five on Cambodia's side of the border.

Preah Vihear temple - in northern Cambodia, several hundred feet from the Thai border - has fuelled nationalism in both countries for decades and conflict over it has sparked sporadic battles in recent years.

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In recent months, Thailand's embattled prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has come under intense criticism from ultra nationalist groups who claim he has shown weakness.

Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen reiterated a call yesterday for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council, warning that the fighting poses a threat to regional stability.

He added: "There is only one resolution to solve this issue: It is to ask the UN Security Council for an immediate intervention."

But Thailand insisted negotiation was the solution - accusing Cambodia of refusing to engage.

"We are not closing communication channels. But we are not going to be the only one trying to establish talks," Thailand's Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd said. "If they keep firing we have to fire back. We are not going to stop at that point and try to ask to talk."

Thailand is the more economically and politically powerful of the two, so it hopes to avoid seeking outside opinions that could force it to lose ground.

The latest clashes have shattered a series of ceasefire deals.

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