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Ceasefire halts Thai-Cambodia clash

Thailand and Cambodia have agreed on a ceasefire after a week of fierce artillery duels across their contested border.

It was some of the worst fighting in years between the south-east Asian neighbours.

The border has been quiet since early on Thursday morning, when one rocket killed a Thai soldier, raising the one-week death toll to 15.

Military commanders from both countries reached the deal after a 40-minute meeting at the border and agreed to reopen closed checkpoints, Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan said.

"The news is good news for every side," he said.

Thai officials were more cautious, however. Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn confirmed that Thailand's Lt Gen Tawatchai Samutsakorn met his Cambodian counterpart Maj Gen Chea Mon and reached a tentative truce.

"They have agreed on the ceasefire in principle," he said, but added that "we need to see whether this agreement will" hold.

The border dispute has stirred nationalist feelings on both sides. But analysts say domestic politics may also be fuelling the conflict, especially in Thailand, where the military that staged a coup in 2006 could be flexing its muscles ahead of elections due in June or July.

The conflict involves small areas of land along the border that have been disputed for more than half a century.

Fierce clashes have broken out several times since 2008, when Cambodia's 11th-century Preah Vihear temple was given UN World Heritage status despite Thailand's objections.

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