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Minister to return from the Hague as ICJ considers verdict

Minister to return from the Hague as ICJ considers verdict

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong is set to return from the Hague today following the conclusion of  hearings at the International Court of Justice on the Kingdom’s long-standing border dispute with Thailand.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the ministerial delegation would arrive in Phnom Penh today. He declined to comment on the conclusion of the two-day hearings in the Netherlands, which finished on Tuesday.

During the hearings, Cambodia requested a reinterpretation of the court’s 1962 judgment awarding sovereignty of Preah Vihear temple to Cambodia, asking that the implications of this judgment for the surrounding territory be explained. Ahead of such a reinterpretation, which ICJ  officials have said could take years, Cambodia has called for the court to order the withdrawal of Thai troops from the areas around the temple.   

Virachai Plasai, the Thai ambassador to the Netherlands, requested that the United Nations judicial body decline to offer a reinterpretation of the judgment, arguing that the 1962 verdict covered the temple only and did not bear on the surrounding area.

Franklin Berman, a visiting professor at Oxford University who argued on Cambodia’s behalf, said during the hearing on Tuesday that the 1962  verdict had turned on a question of territorial sovereignty.

“Thailand was obliged to withdraw its forces and personnel not only from the Temple, but also from Cambodian territory in its vicinity,” he said.

The Bangkok Post reported yesterday that Thailand’s Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said he did not think powerful countries would support Cambodia as they had when the country adjusted to independence from France in 1962. “I’m confident in the professionalism of the ICJ since it comprises highly qualified judges from developed and developing nations,” he was quoted as saying.

He also said Cambodia’s requests for the interpretation of the verdict and its demand for the withdrawal of troops were outside the court’s jurisdiction and, according to the ICJ charter, should not be considered.

Tensions near Preah Vihear spilled over into violence in February, with clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops killing at least ten people in total.

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