BANGKOK – Thailand and Cambodia agreed to prepare a joint mine clearance plan by February next year in order to de-mine at necessary areas in the Provisional Demilitarized Zone (PDZ) surrounding the 11th century Preah Vihear temple, a Cambodian senior defense official said Wednesday.
The agreement was made during the third meeting of Cambodia- Thailand Joint Working Group on Tuesday in Bangkok, which was co- chaired by Gen. Neang Phat, Secretary of State at Cambodia’s Defense Ministry, and Gen. Worapong Sanganetra, chief of joint staff at the Royal Thai Army.
“We agreed to task Cambodia’s Mine Action Center and Thailand’ s Mine Action Center to draw up a joint mine clearance plan in order to demine at the necessary points in the PDZ, not later than February, 2013,” Neang Phat told reporters at the Phnom Penh International Airport upon his arrival from Bangkok. “The demining is to support troop redeployment from the PDZ and to ensure safety for a joint observer team to the area.”
According to Neang Phat, both sides also reaffirmed their commitment to comply with the order of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
“We agreed to exchange information about the respective plan of next phase troop redeployment from the PDZ in the first quarter of 2013,” he said.
Cambodia and Thailand have had sporadic border conflict over territorial dispute near Cambodia’s Preah Vihear temple since the UNESCO listed the temple as a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008, but Thailand claims the ownership of 4.6 square kilometers of scrub next to the temple.
Fierce clashes between the two sides’ troops had happened in February and April 2011 during Thailand’s Democrat Party rule.
The ICJ ordered on July 18, 2011 that Cambodia and Thailand must immediately withdraw their military personnel from the 17.3 square kilometer PDZ and refrain from any armed activity directed at that zone.
Also, it ordered both parties to allow ASEAN observers ( Indonesians) to access to the zone to monitor ceasefire.
The two countries withdrew their respective military personnel from the PDZ in the first phase on July 18, 2012 after a bilateral meeting between Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in Cambodia’s Siem Reap province on July 13, 2012.