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Thai-Cambodia general border meeting to be held next month

(Xinhua)

16:28, August 16, 2011

BANGKOK, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- Gen Yutthasak Sasiprapa, Thai Defense Minister, unveiled Tuesday that Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Tea Banh had sent an invitation asking him to attend the long-awaited 8th General Border Committee (GBC) meeting in Phnom Penh on Sept. 8.

Gen Yutthasak told reporters on the first day at work.

Preceding the GBC is the Regional Border Committee (RBC) meeting which is scheduled in Thailand's northeastern Nakhon Ratchasima province on Aug. 23-24 in order to set framework for the GBC meeting.

Gen Yutthasak elaborated further that withdrawal of troops could begin after the GBC meeting.

In responding to the invitation, the defense minister said he would call a meeting among concerned agencies on Aug. 17 for a briefing.

The Thai-Cambodian GBC is co-chaired by the defense ministers of the two countries.

Following Phnom Penh request on provisional measure, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague ruled on July 18 that both countries should withdraw their troops from the disputed area around contentious Preah Vihear Temple and allow observers from Asean nations to be deployed.

Gen Yutthasak also said that if the two countries could reach agreement during the GBC, the country might report to the World Court that foreign observers are not essential.

GBC and RBC have been delayed during the Abhisit administration of Thailand as ties between the two countries were sour. With the coming of Pheu Thai-led government, the head of which is Yingluck Shinawatra, the youngest sister of Thailand's ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra who is good friend of Cambodian PM Hun Sen, Phnom Penh's attitude towards the matter has dramatically improved.

The ancient Preah Vihear Temple has been a flashpoint between the two neighbors for decades. The ICJ in 1962 awarded the ruins to Cambodia but both nations have laid claims over the sovereignty of the 4.6 square-kilometer land surrounding the temple. Border fighting in February and April claimed over a score of lives on both sides and forced nearly 100,000 to evacuate.

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