Malaysia's defence minister expressed support yesterday for the recent ruling from the United Nations’ highest court that ordered a withdrawal of troops from a newly-created demilitarised zone around Preah Vihear temple.
The comments came after talks at the Ministry of Defence yesterday with Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh about bilateral defence cooperation.
Malaysian Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi called the judgment an “opportunity” for Asean to promote peace in the region. “Cambodia and Thailand are being given an opportunity to maintain peace and stability,” he added.
Hamidi also met later with Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Peace Palace yesterday. Malaysia’s defence delegation arrived in the capital on Wednesday and is set to depart today.
Cambodia and Thailand are being given an opportunity to maintain peace and stability
On July 18, the International Court of Justice ordered Cambodia and Thailand to withdraw all military forces from a provisional demilitarised zone and allow Indonesian observers to monitor a ceasefire along the border. Both sides have pledged compliance but neither has removed troops from the area.
Tea Banh told reporters that a recent withdrawal of troops near Preah Vihear temple was part of normal troop movements and not linked to the order from the ICJ.
“As Prime Minister Hun Sen has said, the withdrawal of troops from the demilitarised zone has to be conducted at the same time with Thailand, and we hope that the new government of Thailand will create a good atmosphere to comply with the ruling of the ICJ,” he said.
Tea Banh also said the Ministry of Defence has had success in its goal of 5,000 new army recruits by the end of the year.
“So far, we have recruited about 70 percent of the total 5,000 soldiers, and all the soldiers will replace the retiree soldiers in the coming year,” he said. Tea Banh declined to elaborate on how many troops were retiring.