PM orders talk with Cambodia before troop withdrawal

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BANGKOK, 19 July 2011– Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has assigned the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs to discuss the International Court of Justice (ICJ)’s recent verdict with Cambodia before deciding to dismiss troops at the border.

After a temporary injunction was issued by the ICJ for both Thailand and Cambodia to pull their military forces out of all areas in the perimeter of Preah Vihear Temple, Prime Minister Abhisit has convened with related authorities to study the Court’s ruling. The attendants included Defense Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan, Supreme Commander General Songkitti Jaggabatara, Army Chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha and National Police Chief Police General Wichien Photphosri.

Following the meeting, which lasted one hour and a half, the Thai premier held a press conference to announce the officials’ findings. He revealed that the military-free zone designated by the ICJ along the Thai-Cambodian border had a combined area of 17.3 square kilometers, comprising 8.5 square kilometers on the Thai side and 8.8 square kilometers on the Cambodian side. He then emphasized that the Court’s order applied to both nations, not just Thailand.

Mr Abhisit elaborated that the Defense and the Foreign Ministries had been instructed to create an understanding with Cambodia about the ICJ’s verdict while any further proceedings, such as the presentation of related matters to the Cabinet and Parliament for consideration, would be the responsibility of the next government.

In the meantime, the Prime Minister confirmed that Thai soldiers would remain posted near the disputed border for the time being, explaining that it would be impossible for them to be dismissed before any discussion was held with Cambodia. He added that Thailand would also need to make sure that its neighbor complied with the ICJ’s ruling against military presence near Preah Vihear Temple and that local civilians had no relations with the troops.