Cambodia, Thailand to redeploy troops at Preah Vihear on July 18


PHNOM PENH, July 13 — Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen told his Thai counterpart Yingluck Shinawatra on Friday that Phnom Penh will reduce its troops at the border region near Preah Vihear Temple on Wednesday under the International Court of Justice (JCJ) order, while Thailand is considering redeploying its troops as well.

Ms Yingluck was in Siem Reap for a one-day trip to address a high-level US business conference at the invitation of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The Thai premier accompanied by Defence Minister Air Chief Marshal Sukumpol Suwanatat met Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Cambodian Defence Minister Gen Tea Banh in a one-hour meeting before holding a joint news conference.

Mr Hun Sen reportedly said that he and the Thai premier discussed the redeployment plan at border area near the Preah Vihear Temple under the World Court order which was considered as a goodwill gesture of the two neighbours, but said the move had nothing to do with the preparation for the observers from Indonesia.

The Cambodian premier was quoted as saying that he would like to convince the peoples of both countries that they could travel safely to Cambodia’s Preah Vihear Temple and Thailand’s Pha Mor E-Dang in Si Sa Ket province.

They also discussed transportation network linkages including highways and railways between the two countries, he said, adding that they would also consider opening added permanent border crossings to facilitate border trade.

Ms Yingluck said that relations between Thailand and Cambodia have gradually been improving and that Thailand supported the border trade by opening the Chong Ahn Ma border crossing in Ubon Ratchathani and a permanent checkpoint at Sakaeo’s Nhong-Aean.

ACM Sukampol said the redeployment would be carried out voluntarily and that the Thai military has been assigned to consider the number of troops suitable for redeployment.

Gen Tea Banh said Cambodia’s redeployment would start July 18 and the move was an effort to avoid border clashes.

China’s Xinhua news agency quoted Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong as saying that Cambodia will withdraw some 486 military personnel from the Provisional Demilitarized Zone (PDZ) surrounding the Preah Vihear Temple next Wednesday in order to comply with the order of the International Court of Justice.

“We will withdraw some 486 troops from the Provisional Demilitarised Zone (PDZ) on July 18 in order to abide by the ICJ’s order issued on July 18 last year,” he said in a press conference concluding the 45th ASEAN meeting and related meetings at the Peace Palace.

The court last July ordered both Thailand and Cambodia to immediately withdraw their military personnel present in the PDZ and have no military presence in the zone, and urged both countries to work with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to reach an agreement allowing the regional bloc’s observers to enter the disputed zone.

Both countries were also ordered to revive their stalled talks to resolve the conflicts and report developments to the court until a decision on Cambodia’s main request for interpretation of the 1962 order is finalised.