Wednesday, September 14, 2011

No action on temple before PM's visit

A plan for troop withdrawal from the Preah Vihear temple would be discussed in the National Security Council (NSC) and the Cabinet soon - but not before the visit to Cambodia of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Thursday, Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul said.

In July, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Thailand and Cambodia to withdraw their military personnel from the court-determined demilitarised zone adjacent to the temple, pending interpretation of the 1962 judgement.

Cambodia announced it would fully comply with the court order but only when Indonesia dispatched its observer team to assess the situation and monitor the troop withdrawal.

Thailand, since the previous government under Abhisit Vejjajiva, has not made any decision on whether or how it would comply with the court's injunction.

Prime Minister Yingluck briefed Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during her visit to Jakarta on Monday that her government needed to be clear on the domestic legal process before making any decision on the matter, according to Surapong.

It remained unclear whether the troop withdrawal in accordance with the ICJ ruling required the Parliament's approval.

Yingluck will visit Cambodia on Thursday and the Preah Vihear issue will be among various topics to be discussed with Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen, a government official said.

Thailand and Cambodia have been at loggerheads over the temple for a long time, but the recent conflict erupted when Cambodia managed to list the Preah Vihear as a world heritage site in 2008.

The Preah Vihear, as ruled by the ICJ in 1962, is situated in territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia but Thailand argued its vicinity belongs to Thailand. Cambodia asked the court in April to clarify the 1962 judgement. The interpretation process is now going on.

Tension between the two countries eased after the victory of the Pheu Thai party in the July election which brought Yingluck to office.

The opposition Democrat Party yesterday demanded the government announce a clear stand over the border disputed area adjacent to the Preah Vihear, and in the Gulf of Thailand, before the visit to Cambodia of Prime Minister Yingluck.

No matter how good personal relations of Prime Minister Yingluck and her brother Thaksin Shinawatra with Cambodia, the government has to make clear that such relations would be useful for the national rather than personal interest, Democrat MP Attaporn Palabutr said.

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