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Thais 'will comply' with UN Court

Thailand will comply with a United Nations court that is set to issue a ruling on whether it must remove soldiers from territory at the contentious border near Preah Vihear temple, a spokesman said yesterday, in an apparent reversal of a previous position.

Thai Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon reportedly said this weekend that Thailand would disregard any ruling from the International Court of Justice requiring a troop withdrawal as requested by Cambodia, appearing to foreshadow another stalemate in the border standoff.

Thani Thongphakdi, spokesman for the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said yesterday, however, that Prawit was “quoted out of context” and Thailand would comply with the ICJ.

“All along, we have always said that we would respect the decision of the Court of International Justice,” he said.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, declined to comment in detail yesterday. “It’s up to them, you know.... We don’t care what they said,” he said.

Cambodia petitioned the ICJ on April 28 to order Thailand to remove troops from a patch of territory adjacent to the Preah Vihear temple claimed by both sides, and also asked the court to render an “interpretation” as to how its 1962 decision that granted sovereignty over Preah Vihear to Cambodia affects the unmarked border.

The court heard arguments in The Hague at the end of last month, and may issue a decision within weeks on the first question. Whether and to what extent the 1962 ruling affects the border is a query expected to take the court much longer to decide.

Meanwhile, Thailand has rejected Cambodian allegations that Thai fighter jets violated Cambodian airspace in a letter sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“In essence, we had reiterated that the Thai military had not violated Cambodian airspace and that the allegations made were groundless, particularly the allegations that [were] trying to portray this [as] preparation of future offences,” Thani said.

Koy Kuong said Cambodia had “clear evidence” to support their claims.

“Normally, a robber never, never confesses his mistakes [or] his guilt,” he added.

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