Thai defense ministry gears up for border meeting with Cambodia

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BANGKOK, Aug 16 – Thai Defense Minister Gen Yuthasak Sasiprapa is set to meet his Cambodian counterpart Gen Tea Banh in the General Border Committee (GBC) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to settle the border disputes with the neighbouring country.

 

Gen Yutthasak said on Tuesday that he had received an invitation to attend the Thai-Cambodian GBC meeting and had ordered the director-general of the Border Affairs Department under the Supreme Command who serves as secretariat to coordinate preparations for the meeting.

A Thai-Cambodian Regional Border Committee (RBC) meeting to lay out the framework for two countries GBC meeting will be held as soon as possible so the higher level border meeting will take place, he said.

Withdrawal or reduction of troops from the territory around Preah Vihear as ordered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague will be able to start after the GBC meeting, the Thai defence minister said.

Gen Yutthasak said the issue of observers from a third country will be stationed at the disputed areas as ordered by the World Court. Cambodia earlier expressed willingness to settle disputes at the bilateral level, and the two countries will later inform the court that observers may not be needed.

The World Court last month ordered Thailand and Cambodia to immediately withdraw all military personnel now present in the provisional demilitarised zone, as defined by the court, and to refrain from any military presence in the zone, and from any armed activity directed at it.

Thailand was ordered to not obstruct Cambodia’s free access to the temple, and to not prevent it from providing fresh supplies to its non-military personnel.

The court also said both countries must continue to cooperate within the framework of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and, most pointedly, allow ASEAN-appointed observers access to the provisional demilitarised zone.

Regarding the case of two Thais jailed in Cambodia, he said it will proceed later.

Thai Patriots Network coordinator Veera Somkwamkid and Ratree Pipattanapaiboon, his secretary, remain in jail on illegal entry and espionage charges after being arrested on Dec 29 along with other five Thais including then Democrat member of parliament Panich Vikitsreth.

The five people faced charged of trespassing on Cambodian territory and were earlier released and returned home.