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Cambodian-Thai talks on troop pullout make headway

PHNOM PENH, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) — Cambodia’s Defense Minister Tea Banh said Tuesday Cambodia and Thailand have already set up a Joint Working Group (JWG) to work towards troop withdrawal from the demilitarized zone on the disputed border near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple.

“We just wait for the invitation from Thailand to convene a meeting in Thailand sometime this year in order to discuss the plan for troop redeployment from the Provisional Demilitarized Zone (PDZ),” Tea Banh told reporters.

He said that the JWG comprised of about 20 border affairs and military experts, and Cambodian side is headed by Neang Phat, secretary of state of the Defense Ministry.

The agreement to establish the JWG was reached here on Dec. 21, 2011 after the 8th meeting of General Border Committee (GBC), which was co-chaired by Tea Banh and his Thai counterpart Yuthasak Sasiprapha.

The JWG will work for the complete and simultaneous pullout of the two countries’ military personnel from their current positions in the PDZ under observation of the Joint Observer Team made up of Cambodian, Thai and Indonesian monitors.

The talks on troop pullout from the PDZ was opened after the International Court of Justice ordered Cambodia and Thailand on July 18, 2011 to immediately withdraw their military personnel from the PDZ and allow ASEAN observers access to the PDZ to monitor ceasefire.

“The issue of Cambodian-Thai border conflict, particularly near Preah Vihear temple, is not an urgent agenda for the upcoming 6th ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting in May, except in emergency circumstance,” Tea Banh said.

Cambodia and Thailand have had sporadic border conflict over territorial dispute near Cambodia’s Preah Vihear temple since the UNESCO listed the temple as a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008 and witnessed fierce clashes in February and April 2011 during Thailand’s Democrat Party rule.

However, the border tension has eased since the opposition Pheu Thai Party won a landslide victory in the general elections on July 3, 2011.

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Written by Kham

17/01/2012 at 7:48 pm

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