KUALA LUMPUR, May 6 (Bernama) -- Cambodia has rejected Thailand''s demand to
withdraw troops from an 11th-century Khmer temple at their disputed border.
Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia Sok An said it would be "stupid to
withdraw Cambodian military from its own territory."
"How can Cambodia withdraw the Cambodian military from Cambodian territory?
It is similar to Malaysian military stationed in Malaysian territory. If
somebody asks Malaysia to withdraw the military from Malaysian territory, it
would be stupid and we can''t do that," he told reporters after delivering his
speech at the International Conference of Asian Political Parties'' (ICAPP) in
Kuala Lumpur today.
The border dispute erupted when both nations claimed a 4.6sq km area that
surrounds the 1,000-year-old Preah Vihear Hindu Temple, which has yet to be
demarcated. The area provides an access route to the temple.
The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the temple was located
in Cambodia and was listed as a world heritage site by Unesco in 2008.
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Indonesia is trying to broker a ceasefire by suggesting the deployment of
neutral military observers to the area, with Cambodia agreeing to the proposal
while Thailand insists on the withdrawal of Cambodia''s troops from the temple
before the deployment of observers.
Both countries had clashed several times since 2008. In the latest incidents
this year, several soldiers were killed.
Sok An said that Cambodia has always welcomed such proposals and has invited
military observers from Asean countries to monitor the ceasefire in the area.
"We are in favour of what we call a permanent, effective, and verifiable
ceasefire. We mean verifiable through military observers. We welcomed Indonesian
observers to the ceasefire," he said.
Sok An also raised the issue in his remarks during the conference by calling
on the Thai ruling party to observe the joint commitment in pursuit of ICAPP''s
common objectives of sustained peace and shared prosperity in the region.
"We urged them to strictly adhere to the ICAPP principles of non-aggression
and non-interference in each other''s internal affairs, peaceful settlement of
territorial disputes and adherence to international treaties and laws," he said.
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