PM briefed on Thailand’s planned defence in temple row


BANGKOK, Jan 25 – Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra reasserted today that Thailand will forge onward in protecting the kingdom’s sovereignty concerning the dispute with Cambodia over land in the area surrounding Preah Vihear temple.

In a security meeting with high-level officials, the premier expressed confidence in the government’s move in contesting the dispute, pending a decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Thailand and Cambodia are required to give their respective oral statements before the ICJ in April and the ruling is expected in October.

The Foreign Ministry is in charge of supervising the Thai-Cambodian relationship at all levels, she said.

Today’s two and a half hour meeting was attended by Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, Deputy Prime Minister/Education Minister Phongthep Thepkanchana, Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat, Veerachai Palasai, leader of Thailand’s legal team in the case, the chiefs of the three armed forces and the national police chief.

Nuttavuth Potisaro, deputy permanent secretary for foreign affairs, said the meeting was satisfactory with Mr Veerachai’s outline on Thailand’s stance and defence in the dispute. The prime minister instructed officials to work with full commitment in protecting the national sovereignty on the Thai-Cambodian border.

He said the Foreign Ministry is willing to accept feedback and suggestions from the public, especially on the issue of the ICJ jurisdiction which Thailand will raise in its April statement.

“We are confident of success in the case given the ICJ’s 1962 ruling which only touched on the temple, and not the surrounding area covering 4.6 sq km,” said Mr Nuttavut.

Thailand has followed every point of the ICJ’s ruling including removal of troops from the temple and adjacent area and the return of ancient objects, discovered in 1954, to Cambodia, he said.

Mr Veerachai said the content of the oral statement is completed except for some minor points.

Cambodia has asked the ICJ to rule on the 4.6 sq km of land surrounding the temple where troops of both countries have been deployed and clashes have erupted sporadically.