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Reports of shots fired at Thai aircraft near Cambodia downplayed

A Thai commercial aircraft came under warning shots while flying over Sa Kaew near the Thai-Cambodian border, according to an unconfirmed report yesterday evening, with the Foreign Ministry saying it was checking the unaccredited claim.

Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul told reporters in Phnom Penh that there was no such shooting by Cambodia at the commercial flight.

Having made thorough checks of several agencies and the airline, as well as the Cambodian commander and Thai military attache in Phnom Penh, Surapong had received no confirmation of such an incident, he said.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Sukamphol Suwannathat said there would be adjustments in the conditions for troop deployments by Thailand and Cambodia at Preah Vihear Temple under an injunction from the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in the wake of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's visit, which also marked the first anniversary of the injunction.

Troops from both countries have been stationed at the site but new conditions of troop deployment would be discussed possibly in a visit to Cambodia today by Yingluck. Sukamphol would not give details of the new conditions, and also refused to elaborate on previous adjustments in conditions of troop deployments.

"The readjustments have been done all along but merely silently, because both sides have to keep the numbers of their own forces confidential. But this time it's Cambodia calling for a new round of adjustment. It's essential that we need to make sure, after upcoming discussions with Cambodia's military, that troop strength must be equal on Cambodia's part, and reported later to the ICJ," he said.

Supreme Commander General Thanasak Patimaprakorn had said earlier that the military would brief Yingluck on the latest situation on the Preah Vihear issue upon request. He said that among the new conditions would be a joint mine-clearing operation at and around the temple site, after both sides' army engineers hold talks next week.

On troop deployments, Thanasak said the adjustments would be imposed equally on both sides, as had been the case all along. The situation had been normal and made "both sides happy". He did not give details about which issues Yingluck would discuss with her Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen.

"As for disputes over territorial waters and an issue relating to an MOU on the temple's perimeter, it depends on the government whether to discuss it this time," he said.

On the troop adjustments initiative raised by the Cambodian media, Thanasak said it would be discussed later whether the changes would involve troop numbers or the kinds of weapons and equipment allowed in the area.

The Thai military and government would follow political practice and constitutional rule if any issues with Cambodia required parliamentary approval, he said.


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