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Thread: Troops pulled from Preah Vihear
19-07-12, 04:32 AM #1Paknam Web Online Staff
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Troops pulled from Preah Vihear
Troops pulled from Preah Vihear
Cambodian soldiers pose as civilians, source says
Published: 19/07/2012 at 02:28 AMNewspaper section: News Share
Thailand and Cambodia started redeploying their soldiers from disputed border areas yesterday as "the first step" in following the International Court of Justice's order of last year.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa will visit Cambodia today, a day after the two countries pulled out their troops. Indonesia has been acting as a mediator between the two countries.
Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat and army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha yesterday oversaw the deployment of two companies of border patrol police officers to replace soldiers who withdrew from the 17.3 sq km area around the Preah Vihear temple, marked as a demilitarised zone by the ICJ.
The zone includes the 9th-century Hindu temple and a 4.6 sq km surrounding area, the ownership of which is claimed by both countries.
Phnom Penh has asked the ICJ to interpret whether the immediate vicinity around the temple belongs to Cambodia.
The court has ordered the two countries to pull out their troops until it renders its judgement.
The ICJ is likely to rule on the case in September or October next year.
ACM Sukumpol said Cambodia must also comply with the ICJ's order.
"If they are gentlemen, they must honour the agreement," he said in response to reports that Cambodian soldiers remain in the disputed area posing as civilians.
ACM Sukumpol said that initially border patrol police will work with soldiers in the border area. This was the first step and more troops would be redeployed in the future, he said.
He brushed aside concerns that the troop redeployment would lead to a loss of territory for Thailand. "We are not at a disadvantage," he said.
ACM Sukumpol said a Thai-Cambodia joint working group under the General Border Committee (GBC) had been set up to work on the redeployment of troops.
However, a border military source said Cambodia had sent in more soldiers to the disputed areas near Preah Vihear over the past two weeks.
Some 200 Cambodian troops removed their military uniforms and donned civilians' clothing to pose as staff looking after the Preah Vihear temple, a source said.
The source said Cambodian troops continued to keep heavy weapons such as artillery and rocket-propelled grenade launchers around the temple.
Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa, who oversees national security, said yesterday that negotiations must continue on clearing the surrounding community, market and the Keo Sikha Kiri Savara pagoda which is occupied by Cambodian villagers and monks.
He said the Thai side has protested several times against Cambodian villagers occupying land and asked Phnom Penh authorities to regulate the area surrounding Preah Vihear.
Meanwhile, Cambodia yesterday replaced its soldiers in the disputed area with police.
"It's an appropriate time to implement the ICJ's verdict," Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh said during the exit ceremony on the Cambodian side, shown live on television. He warned that "full peace has not been ensured".
Some 485 Cambodian troops pulled back from a demilitarised zone and 255 police entered it, and another 100 have moved to the temple grounds, according to Cambodia's Deputy Defence Minister Gen Neang Phath.
Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh, along with high-ranking Cambodian authorities, oversaw the redeployment of the soldiers.
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