Cambodia on Wednesday said third party observers must be sent to its disputed border with Thailand before it will comply with a UN court order to immediately withdraw troops from the area.
The Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled Monday that both countries should remove their forces from the area around the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple, scene of deadly clashes earlier this year.
But neither country has yet withdrawn its military presence and Thailand on Tuesday said talks between the neighbours would precede any military pullout.
Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said he had urged Indonesia, currently chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to send observers into the area as soon as possible.
“For Cambodia, Indonesian observers must arrive to examine the area first before we withdraw,” he told reporters
Indonesian observers would not be allowed to enter the disputed border area near Preah Vihear temple ruins until Cambodian troops had left, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Thursday – the exact opposite of Phnom Penh’s stand on the matter.
“Thailand and Cambodia have different positions on this issue and therefore talks between the two sides are needed.
“Meetings must be held to discuss procedures to prevent any misunderstanding from occurring,” Mr Abhisit said.
The prime minister said the International Court of Justice (ICJ) had ordered an immediate troop withdrawal by both sides.
BP: Thinking about again during the day, Abhisit is probably more right than wrong here. The ICJ ruling was for “immediate withdrawal” whereas no mention of immediate for the ASEAN observers. Cambodia would have been better placed just to withdraw its troops from the DMZ – what is Thailand going to do, invade in light of the ICJ ruling? – and then the ball would have been in Abhisit’s court and Cambodia says they could have complied?