Friday, July 22, 2011

Abhisit demands Cambodia pullout

  • Bangkok Post
  • Published: 22/07/2011 at 12:00 AM
  • Newspaper section: News
Outgoing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is demanding Cambodia withdraw its soldiers from the disputed area near Preah Vihear temple before Indonesian observers enter the zone.

Changing of the guard

National police chief Pol Gen Wichean Potephosree visits border patrol officers in Kantharalak district of Si Sa Ket province yesterday. He plans to deploy the units in the disputed area with Cambodia in place of soldiers following the International Court of Justice’s order for a demilitarised zone to be set up on the common border.

In response to a report that Cambodia wants Indonesian observers to enter the disputed area before its military pulls out, Mr Abhisit said yesterday Thailand was standing firm on its original demand that Cambodia withdraw its troops first.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled on Monday that Thailand and Cambodia should withdraw their soldiers from the disputed area and let observers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) deploy pending its consideration of a Cambodian petition concerning ownership of the area.

"If Cambodia wants to cite the court order to bring observers there right away, Cambodia must withdraw its troops first," Mr Abhisit said.

"Cambodia is the party that filed the petition with the court and the court told Cambodia to withdraw its troops right away."

Mr Abhisit demanded that Cambodia enter talks with Thailand as the two countries' stances on troop withdrawals were still different.

He said Cambodia had not yet contacted Thailand about talks.

Mr Abhisit said the Foreign Ministry would take three to four months to prepare Thailand's opinion on Cambodia's request for the ICJ to interpret Cambodia's ownership of the area near Preah Vihear temple.

The Thai opinion will reach the international court in time so that the ICJ judges can give their ruling before five of the 15 justices are replaced by next February, he said.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya yesterday called for a fair withdrawal of troops by both sides and urged Cambodia to discuss the issue with Thailand.

He also said the effects of the ICJ's order were too extensive for the Thai-Cambodian General Border Committee (GBC) to handle.

Meanwhile, army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said his troops remained in the disputed area pending negotiations between Thailand and Cambodia.

National police chief Pol Gen Wichean Potephosree visited border areas in Si Sa Ket province yesterday to prepare for the future deployment of border patrol units in place of soldiers in compliance with the ICJ's demilitarised zone order.

He said police had withdrawn from border areas with Cambodia in 1978 to make way for soldiers and they would have to review their database on border areas and revive relations with their Cambodian counterparts.

People living near the Thai-Cambodian border in Si Sa Ket and Surin provinces conducted evacuation drills yesterday.

The drills were aimed at ensuring that people in the area can be evacuated effectively in the event of any further border clashes.

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