Officials from Cambodia’s military apparatus, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Council of Ministers left for Thailand yesterday to discuss a host of topics in preparation for the ninth General Border Committee meeting later this month.
Four-star General Neang Path, secretary of state at the Ministry of Defence and the head of the Cambodian delegation, told reporters before his departure from the Phnom Penh International Airport that the advance talks would cover cross-border terrorism, drug smuggling and human trafficking, illegal crossings and border security.
He said that both sides would also discuss issues tied to the International Court of Justice rulings on troop withdrawals around the disputed Preah Vihear temple territory. The court, based in The Hague, ordered the countries in 2011 to move troops outside of a provisional demilitarized zone, but only part of the order was followed.
The order came after fatal border clashes over the temple the same year, and after Cambodia, to which the ICJ awarded Preah Vihear in a 1962 decision, asked the court to clarify that ruling to deal with surrounding property. A decision is expected closer to the end of the year.
One of the topics on the agenda for the upcoming meeting will be plans for demining on both sides of the border area around the temple, Path said.
“The two countries will review the previous year’s discussion between CMAC [Cambodian Mine Action Center] and TMAC [Thai Mine Action Center] in order to find out a further process for implementation of the ICJ ruling to help the two sides to withdraw troops from the Provisional Demilitarized Zone,” he said. “And the most important, we will draft documents of the GBC to prepare for a full meeting of the co-chair of defence ministers, which is scheduled on May 16-17.”
Because of previous postponements, the last GBC happened in December 2011, when the two sides agreed to establish a Joint Working Group to immediately facilitate the complete and simultaneous redeployment of all troops from the provisional demilitarized zone, but since then no timetable was set.