Thailand and Cambodia agreed yesterday to comply with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) order to withdraw troops from the disputed border area near the Preah Vihear Temple following a meeting of the General Border Committee.
Both sides have also agreed to set up a Joint Working Group to work towards complete troop pullout from the provisional demilitarized zone (DMZ) determined by the ICJ, according to China’s Xinhua news agency.
The meeting was chaired jointly by Defense Minister General Yuthasak Sasiprapha and his Cambodian counterpart Tea Banh. A joint statement issued after the meeting said the group would work for a complete and simultaneous redeployment of the two countries’ military personnel from their current positions in the DMZ “at the earliest” in a transparent manner under the watchful eyes of Cambodian, Thai and Indonesian observers.
The Joint Working Group will comprise representatives designated by each side and convene a meeting at the earliest date, it said, adding that Thailand had agreed to host the first meeting.
Both sides have also agreed to cooperate on clearing landmines in the DMZ, which covers some 17 square kilometers near Preah Vihear.
The court’s injunction is pending an interpretation of the ICJ’s 1962 ruling, requested by Cambodia to clarify whether the land in the vicinity of the temple comes under Cambodian sovereignty. In 1962, the court ruled that the temple is situated in Cambodia, but Thailand argued that it owns the area adjacent to Preah Vihear.
Thailand does not dispute Cambodia’s ownership of the World Heritage-listed temple, but both sides claim some of the surrounding area.
Tension had been increasing between Cambodia and Thailand since Unesco awarded Preah Vihear World Heritage status in 2008.
The tension escalated in February 2011, when at least eight people were killed in several days of fighting.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has sidelined democratization and instead placed economic interests at the core of bilateral relations between Thailand and Burma.
A Burmese source said Thaksin flew directly to Dawei to see the project, in which he was likely interested in having some stake.
— Phuket Gazette Editors
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