Thailand and Cambodia are going back to work on the Preah Vihear issue, scheduling a meeting of the Joint Working Group for next week to discuss the withdrawal of troops from the Provisional Demilitarised Zone that surrounds the disputed 11th-century temple, officials said yesterday.
Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that Thailand sent a letter to the Cambodian side, requesting an April 3 to 5 meeting in Bangkok to discuss the long-awaited troop withdrawal, which was ordered by the International Court of Justice on July 18.
“The Cambodian side wants to see the meeting happen soon so that they can implement the ICJ order,” Koy Kuong told the Post.
Cambodia and Thailand first held a General Border Committee meeting in Phnom Penh on December 21, which was chaired by the ministers of defence from both countries.
There, the two sides decided to form a joint working group to figure out details of the withdrawal from the 17.3 square kilometre-area surrounding the temple.
The order from the ICJ for both countries’ troops to be withdrawn from the area was made following deadly border clashes near Preah Vihear in February 2011, which damaged parts of the UNESCO-listed temple.
According to Koy Kuong, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on Monday sent a letter to his Indonesian counterpart, Marty Natalegawa, who was assigned by the ICJ to mediate the border issue between Cambodia and Thailand.
“Foreign Minister [Hor Namhong] has said that Cambodia is already prepared to sign the Terms of Reference [for troop withdrawal] at any time,” Koy Kuong said, adding that Hor Namhong also urged Natalegawa to push forward the signing agreement of the ToR as soon as possible.
To contact the reporter on this story: Cheang Sokha at [email protected]