Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday that Cambodia would not withdraw its case from the United Nations’ International Court of Justice, despite suggestions from his Thai counterpart that it would benefit both countries.
“The case is at the ICJ – Cambodia will not withdraw it,” Hun Sen said, speaking at a Phnom Penh graduation ceremony. “Don’t ask Cambodia to withdraw it. Whether it is resolved with this [Thai government’s] mandate or the next government, we have to [go to the ICJ].”
The premier’s statement followed comments, published by the Bangkok Post yesterday morning, in which Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva said Phnom Penh should withdraw its request for a reinterpretation of a 1962 ICJ judgment awarding Preah Vihear to Cambodia.
Cambodia wants to know how this verdict affects the sovereignty of land surrounding the temple claimed by both sides. Representatives from both countries appeared at the ICJ in The Hague last week to make their cases.
Cambodia has called for the court to ask Thailand to withdraw military forces from the area as an “interim measure”. On Sunday, however, Thai officials reportedly said they would disregard any such ICJ ruling.
“If Cambodia agrees and returns to talks with Thailand, both countries will benefit,” Abhisit was quoted as saying yesterday.
Hun Sen, however, has dismissed the possibility of bilateral talks, stating that the case was currently being considered by the UN at the highest level.
“I don’t really want to talk about the situation at the border between Cambodia and Thailand,” he said. “I don’t want to make any comment which could affect the consideration of the ICJ at The Hague.”
Hun Sen also denied a claim from Wichit Yathip, the former Thai army deputy chief, that the premier had proposed three ways to solve the problem during recent talks with him in Phnom Penh.
The Bangkok Post reported that Hun Sen had proposed that Thai and Cambodian troops be withdrawn from the disputed area, institute joint oversight of the disputed area, and renew boundary demarcation work.
“I have never discussed that with anyone at all … I never think of [talking on the border dispute],” Hun Sen said.