No Thai troop withdrawal from contested Si Sa Ket border zone: PM Abhisit

BANGKOK, Dec 1 – Thai troops stationed at the Thai-Cambodian border in Si Sa Ket province will not be withdrawn when Cambodia reopens the border gate to the 11th century Preah Vihear temple this weekend, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Wednesday.

Mr Abhisit said the number of soldiers stationed at the border will remain the same and as he has clearly stated that troop withdrawal is impossible if Cambodian communities, markets and temples remain in the disputed 4.6 sq km area.

Initial reports that some Khmer communities and markets had already moved from the area, but their temples have not yet been relocated, he said, adding that the Thai authorities were to verify the report.

If the problem of the establishment of Cambodian-populated communities, markets and temples remain unsolved, Thai soldiers would stay there until Cambodia has clearly shown that they abide by the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in 2000 on border demarcation, he said.

“The military may consider adjustment of troops, but no withdrawal,” he said.

Mr Abhisit said the move out by Cambodian communities and markets was considered a good step but the temple still there and further talks must be conducted as previous talks have proved helpful in solving problems.

The Thai premier said the government would strictly observe the ruling of the International Court of Justice and wanted all parties to observe the 2000 MoU.

Signed during the Democrat-led administration under the prime minister Chuan Leekpai, the MoU established ground rules for discussing land boundaries between the two countries. It means that neither country is allowed to use disputed territories until border demarcation is finished.

Thailand and Cambodia have been at loggerheads over Preah Vihear since the World Heritage Committee added it to the World Heritage List of 2008. The listing has nothing to do with the boundaries, but Thailand feared Cambodia would use the disputed areas adjacent to the temple as a buffer zone, particularly the 4.6 square metre area which is claimed by both countries.

Since the conflict started, there has been a military standoff, on and off, along the two countries’ border and several military clashes recorded limited casualties on both sides.

The International Court of Justice on June 15, 1962 ruled in favour of the Cambodians, saying Preah Vihear belongs to Cambodia.

However, relations between Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thai prime minister Abhisit appear to have improved in recent months following a series of meetings held on the sidelines of international and regional summits.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported Monday quoting Cambodian general Chea Tara, deputy commander-in-chief who oversees troop operations at the 11th century Preah Vihear site as saying that Khmer and Thai troops were working “on a good solution to resolve the problems along the border” and he hoped that the gate will be open very soon.

Cambodia closed the gate after Thai protesters rallied near the ruins in June 2008, but, according to the French news agency, an official at the Preah Vihear authority, a government-run agency managing the temple, said there is a plan to open the gate on Sunday. (MCOT online news)

Source link

Please login to your facebook account before comment.