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Thailand seeks to adjust Preah Vihear demilitarised zone

Panya Tiewsangwal
The Nation March 14, 2012  1:00 am
Thailand seeks to adjust Preah Vihear demilitarised zone

Thailand is planning to propose that the International Court of Justice-determined “demilitarised zone” near the controversial Preah Vihear Temple be adjusted, Supreme Commander Thanasak Patimapakorn said yesterday.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday approved the setting up of a working group to comply with the court order, he said, noting that the panel would discuss the idea with its Cambodian counterpart.

“The world court has marked the demilitarised zone, but now that both countries have good relations, we think we can discuss the matter first,” he said.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) marked the 17.3 square kilometres adjacent to the Hindu temple as a demilitarised zone to prevent further clashes between the two nations while it works on interpreting the 1962 ruling on the temple as requested by Cambodia.

Phnom Penh is seeking a clarification on who owns the area upon which the temple complex is situated.

In 1962, the court ruled that the temple was situated in a territory that came under the sovereignty of Cambodia, but Bangkok argues that Thailand owns the land in the temple’s vicinity.

“We don’t know who has set up the zone or who determines where the ABCD points are located. So if we can talk with Cambodia, we can live together peacefully. The world court also wants us to live together peacefully,” Thanasak explained.

When asked if a team of observers from Indonesia was still necessary to monitor the situation, the commander said that in a recent meeting his Indonesian counterpart had said he wanted the two countries to reach an agreement on the matter first.

“If the two countries think observers are needed, Indonesia will send them in,” he said, noting that the working group would discuss the matter with Cambodia.

“If the working groups can reach an agreement, it will be taken to the General Border Committee and the Thai Cabinet to be processed under the Constitution’s Article 190,” he said. “Everything will follow the procedure step by step. Nobody can make any decisions alone.”

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