>Thai troops await govt order to withdraw

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Gen. Anupong (R) gesturing to Gen. Tea Banh of Cambodia during the meeting to resolve the Preah Vihear issue in Aranyaprathet on 21th July 2008.

BANGKOK, July 30 (TNA) – Thailand’s Army chief Gen. Anupong Paochinda said Wednesday that Thai troops now stationed near a disputed border area around an ancient temple are awaiting Thai government instructions on withdrawing from the area disputed by this country and Cambodia.

Gen. Anupong told journalists that the adjustment of troop deployments in the area would have to be decided on by governments of the Thai and Cambodian governments.

To date Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej has not yet discussed the issue with the National Security Council or with military commanders, Gen. Anupong said.

His comments were made after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said in Phnom Penh on Tuesday that Cambodian troops were ready to withdraw from the 4.6-square-kilometre disputed area adjacent to Preah Vihear temple.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the 11th century temple belongs to Cambodia. The current tensions at the area and the remaining part of the common border intensified after UNESCO early this month named the temple as a World Heritage site following an application by the Cambodian government.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said the troop withdrawal issue is up to Thailand to decide when to act upon, as it is not a problem for Cambodia.

Foreign ministers of the two countries held talks in Cambodia’s Siem Reap Monday and agreed that both countries would adjust their troop deployments in and around the pagoda located in the temple complex.

Asked whether Thailand would be at a disadvantage following the troop adjustment, Gen. Anupong said he preferred not to discuss the issue because it was a “delicate matter”. (TNA)
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