Thailand, Cambodia agree to jointly remove landmines at Prea Vihear

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BANGKOK, June 29 — Thailand and Cambodia agreed at the second meeting of their Joint Working Group (JWG) in Phnom Penh to jointly remove and disarm landmines around Preah Vihear Temple before deciding about international observers, according to Thai Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat.

The committee met Wednesday and Thursday to carry out the Interantional Court of Justice order for provisional measures. Thailand’s Gen Worapong Sanganetra, Joint Chief of Staff of Royal Thai Army  was the lead Thai delegate while Cambodia’s team was led by Gen Neang Phat, Secretary of State of the Ministry of National Defense.

Minister Sukumpol said that Thai and Cambodian representatives agreed to remove the landmines around Preah Vihear, but the meeting did not discuss observers as the landmines should first be cleared for the safety of observers.

According to the end of meeting statement, both sides reaffirmed their commitment to implementing the World Court’s order, to maintain and promote long-standing peaceful co-existence between the peoples of the two countries and to prevent harmful activities which may adversely affect the Provisional Demilitarised Zone (PDZ) determined by the court’s order for provisional measures.

Thailand and Cambodia also agreed to task the Thailand Mine Action Centre (TMAC) and the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) to plan the joint-demining to provide safety to the Joint Observers Team (JOT) and to facilitate the process of redeployment. The meeting will be held in the third week of July in Bangkok.

The redeployment should take place within 30 days, observed by the Joint Observers Team (JOT) after the CMAC and TMAC demining is complete in the required areas starting from the priority points A,B,C,and D of the demilitarised zone determined by the court, the statement said.

The third meeting of the committee is to be held in Thailand at a mutually agreed date.

Meanwhile, Army Chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha praised Cambodia for good cooperation in working together. He said Thailand and Cambodia are neighbours and share the border so that they should remain peaceful.

The JWG was established last December to work towards a complete troop pullout from the provisional zone around the temple to comply with last July’s court order.

According to the ruling, Thailand and Cambodia must immediately withdraw their military personnel from the PDZ and allow ASEAN observers access to monitor the ceasefire.

The Cambodian government in April asked the court to interpret its 1962 verdict on the ownership of Preah Vihear and the disputed surrounding area.

Cambodia also asked the court for an injunction ordering Thailand to withdraw its troops from the disputed area around Preah Vihear after relations between the two countries soured in the wake of Cambodia’s bid to have the temple listed as a World Heritage Site.

The court ruled in 1962 that the historic temple was on Cambodian soil, but its ruling was not clear about ownership of the surrounding 4.6 square kilometre area. Thai and Cambodian troops have clashed repeatedly as each side attempted to assert sovereignty over the disputed adjacent areas.