Thailand, Cambodia agree to roadmap for troop withdrawal


BANGKOK, May 10 – Thailand and Cambodia have agreed that a roadmap will be drawn up for the two countries to withdraw their troops from the areas surrounding Preah Vihear temple and the adjoining community, according to Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Thani Thongphakdi. 

Speaking by telephone from Indonesia, Mr Thani said that the meeting of Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong discussed the border dispute and have agreed that a plan must be drawn up and implemented accordingly before Indonesian observers will be stationed at the contested Thai-Cambodian border area.

The plan would include various agreements, meetings to detail the steps and procedures to withdraw troops from the areas including Preah Vihear temple, its surrounding areas, the Buddhist temple and the nearby communities that both countries must follow.

However, the timeframe cannot yet be specified because the issue must be endorsed by both governments. When the clashes and dispute will end permanently depends on how long the procedure will take to be implemented, he said.

The process will start at bilateral talks under the framework of the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission (JBC), he said.

Mr Thani reiterated that Cambodia has to withdraw troop from the disputed area before Indonesia, the current AEAN chair, dispatched observers into the Thai-Cambodian border.

He denied reports that the negotiation at the ASEAN summit failed, saying the Indonesian foreign minister was satisfied with the tripartite negotiation with the fruitful result that led to the agreement on the roadmap.

However, Thailand must clarify with Malaysia’s deputy foreign minister who believed that Thailand caused border clashes which may result from incorrect news report, he added.

Thailand and Cambodia agreed in February to accept Indonesian observers on the border but the initiative was delayed after Thailand demanded that Cambodia first pull troops out of the temple.

Malaysian deputy foreign minister Richard Riot Jaem was quoted by French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) as blaming Thailand for the renewed clashes on the border, saying it had reneged on an agreement to send observers to the disputed region.

“An agreement had been agreed upon, (so Thailand) should adhere to it, I wouldn’t want to say lacking in faith… (but) they did not adhere to the agreement,” he said.

“Thailand refused and that’s why the skirmishes came again,” said Riot, who attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting where it was agreed that 30 observers would be stationed on either side of the border, AFP said.