PHNOM PENH, Dec21 — Thailand and Cambodia have agreed to implement the World Court’s order on provisional border measures, and in the meantime a joint working group will be set up to oversee troop withdrawals from the newly defined demilitarised zone, according to Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh.
Thai Defence Minister Gen Yutthasak Sasiprapa led the Thai delegates to co-chair the meeting with his Cambodian counterpart Gen Tea Bahn at the 8th Thai-Cambodia General Border Committee (GBC) in Phnom Penh.
Gen Tea Banh said at the joint press conference that the meeting ran smoothly with a warm atmosphere which showed the good relations between the two neighbouring countries and increased the trust which both parties hope will lead to peace and stability along the border.
The Cambodian general said that the GBC agreed to implement the International Court of Justice (ICJ) order related to the provisional measures.
He said a joint working group would be established to discuss the regulations that will apply to the demilitarised zone and that troop withdrawals will be carried out as soon as possible, with transparency, under the supervision of the joint observers of Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, as chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The demilitarised zone will be defined at a meeting to be held early next year in Thailand, he said.
The Cambodian minister said he could not say how many soldiers would be moved but it would be done as soon as possible. There was no discussion of the details of which forces would be replaced after the withdrawal.
However, he said the move would be done with transparency and equally by both parties.
Gen Yutthasak said that the eighth session of the border agency involved much discussion after not meeting for one year.
The discussion was carried out in a very good atmosphere and the implementation of the ICJ order would be equally fair, he said.
The World Court on July 18 ordered both Thailand and Cambodia to withdraw their troops from the newly defined demilitarised zone in a disputed portion of their border around the historic Preah Vihear temple while urging both countries to work with ASEAN to allow the regional bloc’s observers to enter the disputed zone.
Gen Tea Banh said both sides had also agreed to support the attempt of the joint commission to demarcate maritime and land boundaries for good relations and mutual respect.
The GBC meeting has supported cooperation to prevent illegal activities along the border including drug smuggling, logging and the trade in contraband antiques.
More cooperation will be attempted regarding landmine clearing, promoting the well being of residents along the border and prevention of threats of diseases such as bird flu and HIV/AIDS.
Thailand will host next GBC meeting in 2012.