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Thailand, Cambodia Fight Over Disputed Land Surrounding Preah Vihear Temple



Thailand’s legal team, led by Thai ambassador to the Netherlands Virachai Plasai, rejected Cambodia’s allegation that Thailand had made a “unilateral delimitation” of the vicinity of the Preah Vihear temple, and accused Cambodia of falsifying maps submitted to the court.


HAGUE Netherlands – Thailand on Wednesday presented arguments to the International Court of Justice, which is deciding on a Cambodian complaint over disputed land near an ancient temple on the border between the two countries.

Thailand told the court through a representative in its oral arguments Wednesday that the court did not rule on the border near the temple in 1962 and should not be asked to do so now.

In this photo taken Nov. 7, 2008, a Cambodian deminer, holds a map of a disputed border at an entrance of Cambodia’s Preah Vihear temple in a world heritage site near the Cambodian-Thai border.

Cambodia wants the court in the Hague to clarify a 1962 decision that granted temple ownership to Cambodia but did not settle dual claims to land surrounding Preah Vihear temple. Cambodia gave its oral arguments at the opening of the hearings on Monday.

Both countries found themselves in a protracted military standoff over the disputed 4.6-square-kilometer stretch of land near the temple from 2008 to 2011. The land became the center of the military standoff following Preah Vihear temple’s addition to a Unesco list of World Heritage site, which sparked nationalistic demonstrations in both countries.

Thailand said in a statement that Cambodia had not challenged the court’s judgement in the last half century, although Cambodia has been encroaching on Thai territory since 2000.

“After a period of good-faith negotiations without result, Thailand reacts and intensifies its protests against the breaches of its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Thailand’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Virachai Plasai, said in a statement Wednesday. “This is the real cause of recent arm conflicts, all of which has been provoked by Cambodia. All Thailand has done is to exercise its right to self-defense under international law.”

Cambodia said Monday that a decision on the land surrounding the temple must be clarified to prevent future violence between the two countries.

Thailand argued Wednesday that the International Court in 1962 only ruled on the ownership of the temple, not the land surrounding it. The court refused to rule on the surrounding land at the time, so Cambodia does not have a right to ask it to do so now, Thailand told the court. The dispute over the land needs to be solved, but not at the International Court, Thailand said.

Thailand has not consented to the court determining land on the border, “be that at the temple or anywhere else,” Thailand’s representative told the court.

A second round of oral arguments will be made by Cambodia on Thursday and by Thailand on Friday.

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