'Khmer Cambodian troop withdrawal' not included : source

May 12, 2011

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee

The Nation

Thailand not breaching TOR, but stands by its stance, says Kasit

The withdrawal of Cambodian troops from Preah Vihear Temple and its vicinity - a condition that Thailand has set before it accepts Indonesia's team of observers to be stationed in the disputed area - was not mentioned in the Jakarta-brokered peace package, a diplomatic source said.

The three-step package agreed upon by the Cambodian, Indonesian and Thai foreign ministers on Monday only set a timeline for the deployment of the team of observers and the meetings of Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) and General Border Committee (GBC), the minutes of the meeting showed.

In a Twitter message yesterday, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya explained that the basic principle of the deal was still that Cambodian troops need to be withdrawn from Preah Vihear, Wat Keo Sikha Kiri Svara and adjoining areas before Indonesian observers will be allowed in the area.

"Thailand has never breached the terms of reference for the team of observers are we are being accused of," he said.

The new peace package, a copy of which was obtained by The Nation, comprises three steps for the deployment of Indonesian observers to areas near Preah Vihear where military clashes broke out in February. They are:

Step 1
  • Exchanging formal letters on the terms of reference for the observers;
  • Announcing the GBC/JBC meeting.
Step 2 (five days after Step 1 is implemented)
  • Dispatching an initial survey team;
  • Holding a meeting of the GBC/JBC.
Step 3 (ten days after Step 1)
  • Fully assigning the team of observers;
  • Following up on the results of the GBC/JBC meeting.
Kasit said he would submit the peace package to the Cabinet next week, and it might want to adjust some details.

Though Thailand and Cambodia have already agreed upon the text of the terms of reference, Thailand will only send its formal acceptance to Jakarta if Cambodia agrees to withdraw its troops from Preah Vihear and its vicinity. Phnom Penh has rejected the condition and things are at a deadlock.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa called a tripartite meeting with Kasit and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong on the sidelines of the Asean summit in Jakarta on Monday. The meeting came up with a package that stops both sides from setting conditions before any steps can be taken.

A Thai official anticipates that the condition of Cambodia's troop withdrawal, even though it is not mentioned in the package, would be discussed during the GBC meeting, which is co-chaired by the defence ministers of Thailand and Cambodia, or by the JBC, which takes care of boundary demarcation. 
Indeed, the withdrawal or repositioning of troops in the disputed area near the Preah Vihear temple is one of the major topics to be discussed by the JBC in relation to the boundary demarcation.

The last JBC meeting was held in Bogor, Indonesia, in the first week of April but no significant progress was made. Clashes broke out later in April near Ta Mouan Thom and Ta Kwai temple in Surin about 150km west of Preah Vihear.


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