Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Thailand, Cambodia agree on full troop redeployment

HUA HIN, Aug 19 (TNA) - Thai Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong on Tuesday agreed on full troop redeployment and to adopt a provisional arrangement over the disputed Preah Vihear temple pending the survey and demarcation of the area in question.

In a joint press conference after a full day of talks in this Thai resort town, Mr. Tej announced both parties have agreed on a full redeployment of troops in the area, among other measures.

Thailand and Cambodia agreed to convene a second meeting between the head of the Cambodian Temporary Coordinating Task Force and the head of the Thai Regional Border Committee (RBC) on August 29 in Cambodia to discuss the second phase of redeployment.

Both sides pulled out most of their soldiers on Saturday, leaving only 10 troops from each country at the compound of a pagoda near the temple.

They agreed to adopt a provisional arrangement pending the survey and demarcation work to be carried out by the Joint Boundary Commission (JBC), which is expected to be convened in October.

However, the Thai Foreign Minister reaffirmed the arrangement must comply with the Thai constitution.

In the afternoon, a group of 10 Buddhist Dharmayatra was staging a protest against the bilateral talks and Preah Vihear's listing as a World Heritage Site in front of the hotel where the ministerial meeting was insession. The group submitted a letter of protest to a foreign ministry official before leaving.

It is expected that the next round of the Foreign Ministers' Meeting will take place after the Joint Boundary Commission is convened in October.

Tensions at the ancient temple escalated after the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)'s World Heritage Committee early last month named the temple as World Heritage site to Cambodia. The International Court of Justice in 1962 ruled that the temple belongs to Cambodia, but that the surrounding area remains in dispute between the two countries. (TNA)

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