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Cambodia, Thailand to jointly clear PDZ

Cambodia and Thailand agreed yesterday to work on a joint plan to clear mines inside the provisional demilitarised zone (PDZ) around Preah Vihear temple, a Ministry of Defence spokesman said.

Under the agreement, demining would take place in the next two months, ensuring the area is safe for observers from Indonesia and the two countries to enter, Neang Phat, the ministry’s secretary of state, said yesterday.

“We agreed to honour the recommendations of the Cambodia Mine Action Centre and the Thailand Mine Action Centre to draw up a joint mine clearance plan in order to demine at the necessary areas in the PDZ, no later than February 2013,” Phat said in a statement issued upon his return from discussions in Bangkok.

Both countries had demarcated a total of four areas inside the PDZ, Phat added.

Cambodia and Thailand withdrew about 500 soldiers in July after discussions between Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart Yingluck Shinawatra over the long-disputed area.

The ICJ ordered the two countries in July last year to immediately withdraw soldiers from the zone and refrain from armed activity.

Heng Ratana, director-general of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre, said representatives from the two countries’ mine centres were scheduled to meet in the capital in the near future to discuss the plan.

“We will discuss [this] in Phnom Penh soon, but there are no specifics about a date yet,” he said.

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