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Cambodia, Thailand see a step forward to troop pullout from disputed border…as ICJ convening neared

PHNOM PENH, June 28 (Xinhua) — Cambodia and Thailand have moved a step forward toward troop withdrawal from the disputed border area surrounding the 11th century Preah Vihear temple, said both sides’ officials on Thursday.

Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) and Thailand Mine Action Center (TMAC) will hold a talk in Bangkok in the third week of July this year to discuss measures and planning for a joint mine clearance in the Provisional Demilitarized Zone (PDZ) surrounding the temple ahead of troop withdrawal and observers deployment, according to a joint press release read by Gen. Neang Phat, secretary of state at Cambodia’s defense ministry, after the second meeting of Cambodia-Thailand Joint Working Group (JWG).

“The redeployment of military personnel from the PDZ will be implemented within 30 days after CMAC and TMAC have cleared mines in the PDZ,” said the joint press release, adding that the troop redeployment will be witnessed by a joint observer team.

“The meeting was held in a close and friendly atmosphere and concluded with good results,” Neang Phat said. “Both sides reiterated commitment to comply with the order of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).”

Gen. Worapong Sanganetra, chief of joint staff at the Royal Thai Army, said that the meeting achieved “good results” and reflected “good cooperation between the two sides’ militaries”.

“We vowed to build close and mutual cooperation to find ways to solve the issues for the interests of the two countries and peoples,” he said in his closing remarks.

The JWG was established in last December to work toward complete troop pullout from the PDZ surrounding Preah Vihear temple in order to comply with the ICJ’s order dated on July 18, 2011.

The order said Cambodia and Thailand must immediately withdraw their military personnel from the PDZ and allow ASEAN observers to access to the zone to monitor ceasefire.

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 07, 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 in 2011 during Thailand’s Democrat Party rule.


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