The 21st Brigade of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Division 2 became the latest unit to be withdrawn from the Thai-Cambodian border near Preah Vihear temple yesterday, with three more units scheduled to be pulled back within the week.
The unit, which was not based within a newly-created demilitarised zone around the 11th-century temple, has been removed from the border as Thailand and Cambodia prepare for a meeting of the new Regional Border Committee later this month.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries appear to have warmed since the election of Thailand’s Puea Thai party last month, bolstering hopes of a resolution to the ongoing border conflict following deadly clashes earlier this year.
“The withdrawal of Brigade 21 today is the third time that we’ve pulled out troops from the area around the Preah Vihear temple,” said RCAF Deputy Commander Chea Tara in a statement released yesterday.
“We will continue to make arrangements to pull out more troops, as Prime Minister Hun Sen’s aim is to increase cooperation between the two governments and avoid conflict.”
Defence Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat said yesterday that the removal of troops from the border was a symbol of goodwill and trust between the two governments.
“They share our desire to avoid continued conflict at the border,” he said. “We will only reinforce troops if there is sufficient cause.”
The Bangkok Post reported yesterday that newly-appointed Thai Defence Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha considers solving the border conflict his top priority.
“I am determined to settle the conflict between the two nations as soon as possible,” The Bangkok Post quoted him as saying.