Thailand, Cambodia must hold talks before troop withdrawal: Thai FM

16:37, July 22, 2011      

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Thailand's caretaker Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said on Friday that Bangkok and Phnom Penh must hold a discussion before military withdrawal as ordered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

In response to the ICJ's decision that both countries should allow observers from the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) into the area, the minister said Indonesian observer team will be assigned only after an agreement on troop withdrawal between the neighbors is reached.

The outgoing minister added that on July 25, the ministry will hold a meeting with the Defence Ministry to lay the framework for the matter.

Further details on the subject, however, will be rested with the new government which is expected to take the office in August.

Following the Cambodia's application in late April for reinterpretation of the ICJ's 1962 ruling and provisional measure, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on July 18 ordered both countries to remove their troops from disputed area.

The court went beyond Cambodia's request for immediate and complete withdrawal of Thai troops from the area, saying that both countries should allow observers from the ASEAN into the area to observe a cease-fire.

Indonesia, as the rotating chairman of the ASEAN, offered to deploy an observer team along Thai-Cambodian border following their first clash in February.

The ICJ ruled in 1962 that the 900-year-old Preah Vihear Hindu temple was located in an area under Cambodian sovereignty. However, both sides have laid claim to some 4.6 square kilometer land surrounding the temple.

Tensions have mounted since 2008 when the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization listed the temple as a World Heritage Site, triggering sporadic clashes along the border. In February, some 10 people were killed and thousands fled to makeshift camps in the clashes.

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