Thailand, Cambodia start withdrawing troops from disputed temple environs

August 18, 2008 at 2:10 am Leave a comment

BANGKOK, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) — After one month of military standoff on the disputed territory around the ancient Preah Vihear temple, Thailand and neighboring Cambodia have started withdrawing their troops in a bid to ease tensions ahead of a second-round foreign ministers’ meeting, Thai state media reported Saturday.

Without disclosing the exact number of Thai troops pulling out from the disputed territory, a Thai foreign ministry spokesman was quote by Thai News Agency as saying on Saturday that it was up to the military to decide how many soldiers should be withdrawn from the area.

Citing an earlier Thai cabinet resolution that the troop withdrawal should not affect the country’s capability in protecting its sovereignty, the spokesman said the Thai military would be responsible for the ongoing withdrawal.

Tensions at around the 11th century Kymer-style Hindu temple escalated after UNESCO early last month listed the temple as World Heritage site upon the application of Cambodia.

The International Court of Justice in 1962 ruled that the temple belongs to Cambodia, but an area of 4.6-sq. kilometers adjacent to the temple remains in dispute between the two countries.

Reports from Cambodia quoted Deputy Defense Minister General Neang Paht as saying that most troops would leave on Saturday evening.

Gen. Neang Paht said there would be around 10 or 20 soldiers from each side remaining posted there.

The first meeting of Thai Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong to resolve the dispute was held in the Cambodian province of Siem Reap on July 28, with both sides agreeing on troop redeployment, a de-mining survey program and border demarcation by the Joint Boundary Commission.

The two foreign ministers are scheduled to meet for a second time in the Thai resort town of Hua Hin on Tuesday.

Editor: Bi Mingxin

Entry filed under: Politics, Preah Vihear Issue. Tags: , .

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