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GBC adjusts timeline for Preah Vihear talks

GBC adjusts timeline for Preah Vihear talks

High-ranking military officials from Cambodia and Thailand would today discuss withdrawing troops from the demilitarised zone around Preah Vihear temple, but it would be up to defence ministers to set a time frame for the exit, a general told the Post yesterday.

General Neang Phat, secretary of state at Cambodia’s  Ministry of Defence, is chairing the two-day joint secretariat meeting of the Cambodia-Thai General Border Committee, which began yesterday.

The meeting was designed to review progress reports on border relations and co-operation between the two countries and to serve as preparat-ion for tomorrow’s meeting of the eighth GBC, he said.

“We will also talk about setting a time frame for troop redeployment from the provisional demilitarised zone near the Preah Vihear temple to comply with the order of the ICJ [which was delivered on July 18],” Neang Phat said.

“However, the actual time frame will be decided by the two countries’ defence ministers,” he said.

The meeting’s  co-chairman, General Voravit Darunchoo, director of Thailand’s border affairs department of the Supreme Commander Headquarters, said the two countries would continue a smooth cooperation along the border for the interest of both countries’ military and people.

“I think  the most important thing now is that we have to have goodwill towards each other, with a mutual understanding,” General Voravit Darunchoo said.

“I hope there will be a successful outcome from a plan that we will set up to bring full security and stability and better living conditions to our people along the border.”

On July 18, the International Court of Justice ordered Cambodia and Thailand to withdraw its troops stationed along the border from the 17.3 square kilometre area surrounding Preah Vihear temple following deadly clashes along the border that killed at least 10 people and displaced thousands of villagers.

Troops on both sides have been positioned along the border near Preah Vihear temple since July, 2008 after the temple was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.