BANGKOK, April 29 - Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday said the country is prepared to fight its case to resolve the ongoing border dispute in the World Court after its neighbour Cambodia appealed to the court to clarify its 1962 ruling about the ancient Preah Vihear temple.
Thai foreign ministry spokesman Thani Thongpakdi made his remarks following the latest move of the Cambodian government in bringing the Thai-Cambodian border conflict to the World Court after the clashes continued for eight days.
The move came after the Cambodian government issued a statement saying it had requested "interpretation of the Court's judgment... concerning the temple of Preah Vihear" was prompted by "Thailand's repeated armed aggression to exert its claims to Cambodian territory."
A Cambodian government spokesman was quoted by Agence France Presse news agency saying "We especially want clarification about the vicinity around the temple. Thailand is using unilateral maps to claim our territory."
Thai spokesman Thani however said the accusation is simply Cambodia's point of view, and no more, and that the neighbour's move was not unexpected by Thailand.
Mr Thani said the Cambodian troops intrusion beginning last Friday is believed to pave the way for Cambodia to bring the issue to the International Court of Justice.
"The Thai foreign ministry is well prepared. Legal advisors have been hired to handle the case, but we continue to believe that the border dispute should be solved at the bilateral level," the Thai spokesman said.
"What Cambodia is doing means it overlooks the importance of regional cooperation and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)," Mr Thani said.
Mr Thani said the ministry is now awaiting the text Cambodia's complaint and will study it thoroughly. It is believed that the court will forward the document to Thailand soon.
"However it may take year or two, or more, for the court's consideration. We still must see whether the court will accept the case or not," he said
The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that Preah Vihear temple belonged to Cambodia, although its primary entrance lies in Thailand.
The historic structure has long been a point of contention between the two Asian neighbours as the exact boundary through the surrounding grounds remains in dispute, with occasional military skirmishes having claimed a number of lives.
The latest clashes erupted last Friday near Ta Kwai temple in Surin’s Phanom Dong Rak district and the fighting spread to nearby Si Sa Ket province, forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of local residents for their safety.
The Thai army reported Cambodian troops first fired on Thai soldiers and that Thailand was obliged to retaliate to protect the country's sovereignty. (MCOT online news)