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POLICE TO REPLACE SOLDIERS AT PREAH VIHEAR

Posted Date: Monday, 16-Jul-2012

Thailand and Cambodia will redeploy an unspecified number soldiers currently stationed in disputed areas around Preah Vihear temple. The move will take place on Wednesday to mark the one-year anniversary of the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) order for both sides to withdraw troops from the area.

The two nations' planned troop redeployment was confirmed yesterday by Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat who on Friday accompanied Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to attend talks with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in Siem Reap.

Citing security concerns, ACM Sukumpol did not say how many Thai soldiers were to be redeployed.

ACM Sukumpol said the troop redeployment complied with the ICJ's order for Thailand and Cambodia to withdraw their troops from the 17.3 sq km Provisional Demilitarised Zone (PDZ) near Preah Vihear temple.

Early last year, Cambodia petitioned the ICJ to interpret its 1962 verdict on the sovereignty of the disputed 4.6 sq km area around Preah Vihear after the two sides engaged in a series of border clashes near the temple.

The ICJ, however, has not yet ruled on the petition. In the meantime, it issued the troop pull-out order to quell the armed conflict.

ACM Sukumpol said he would preside over the redeployment of Thai soldiers at the Thai-Cambodian border in Si Sa Ket province on Wednesday, while his Cambodian counterpart Tea Bahn would preside over the redeployment of about 485 Cambodian soldiers based at the temple.

He said the Cambodian soldiers would be replaced by about 350 border patrol and tourist police.

ACM Sukumpol said the redeployed Thai soldiers would be replaced by border police officers under the military's strategic control.

He insisted the redeployment is temporary and gave assurances Thailand would not lose any land.

ACM Sukumpol said the Democrat Party should not look to criticise the government over the redeployment, but instead recognise that the ICJ's order is being respected.

Before the two countries agreed to move some of their soldiers from the PDZ during the Friday's talks in Siem Reap, their senior soldiers had twice met at a Joint Working Group to discuss the ICJ's order. However, they failed to reach a consensus on the issue.

Instead they issued an agreement that they would work on a landmine-clearing operation around the Preah Vihear temple.

ACM Sukumpol said the two nations' demining squads would meet with one another next week to discuss the operation.

Sourced: bangkokpost

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