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Cambodian, Thai defense officials to continue talks on troop pullout next week

PHNOM PENH, June 22 (Xinhua) — The second meeting of Cambodia- Thailand Joint Working Group (JWG) will be held here next Wednesday to continue discussion on the principle of troop withdrawal from the disputed border area surrounding Preah Vihear temple, Cambodia’s defense ministry said in a press released on Friday.

The meeting will be co-chaired by Gen. Neang Phat, secretary of state at Cambodia’s defense ministry, and Gen. Worapong Sanganetra, chief of joint staff of the Royal Thai Army.

The JWG was established last December for the complete troop pullout from the Provisional Demilitarized Zone (PDZ) surrounding the 11th century Preah Vihear temple to comply with the order of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The ICJ ordered Cambodia and Thailand on July 18, 2011 to immediately withdraw their military personnel from the PDZ and allow ASEAN observers (Indonesians) to access to the zone to monitor ceasefire.

The first JWG meeting was held in Bangkok in April. At that time, the two sides agreed to continue discussion on the principle of redeployment of military personnel from the PDZ and invite joint observers consisting of Cambodian, Thai and Indonesia to the second JWG meeting.

Cambodia and Thailand had border conflict just a week after the UNESCO approved Cambodia’s bid to have the Preah Vihear temple named a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008, but Thailand claims the ownership of 4.6 square kilometers (1.8 square miles) of scrub next to the temple.

The conflict led to deadly armed clashes in February and April 2011 during Thailand’s Democrat Party rule.

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