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Yingluck, Hun Sen to discuss temple at February meeting

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is expected to discuss the Preah Vihear border dispute with her Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen when she visits Phnom Penh early next month.

However, the talks will not have any impact on the ongoing World Court case between the two countries, National Security Council secretary-general Pharadorn Phatthanathabutr said yesterday.

Yingluck is scheduled to attend the funeral of former Cambodian king Norodom Sihanouk on February 4.

Thailand and Cambodia are fighting a case in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over the historic site, which has marred bilateral relations and resulted in border fighting on several occasions. The final oral hearing at the World Court is scheduled for April, and the verdict is expected in late October.

A meeting of a bilateral committee is scheduled for February 28 to discuss a joint landmine-clearing operation and troop deployments, Pharadorn said.

On the Preah Vihear court case, Pharadorn said Yingluck had ordered a full-scale legal battle, and advised all committees at all levels to cooperate fully. She also said the Thai government would strictly comply with all conditions mandated by an injunction ordered by the ICJ.

Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana, a legal adviser to the government, will meet a team of Thai lawyers in London on February 8 and 9, and the results will be reported to Thai authorities including Yingluck. "By then, the Thai government’s direction in fighting the case would become clearer," Pharadorn added.

Deputy Foreign Ministry permanent secretary Natthawut Phothisaro said the closing statement to be made in the oral hearing was nearly complete, and that ongoing verbal disputes between Hun Sen and Democrat Party leader and former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva would not put Thailand at a disadvantage.

Natthawut said the ICJ had not raised disputes over the border demarcation relevant to the Preah Vihear temple dispute at any point during the previous session. Thailand will stress that the ICJ cannot make any ruling that concerns issued unrelated to the original three disputes already addressed in a 1962 verdict.

The 1962 ruling stipulated that the temple is located on areas under Cambodian sovereignty, that Thai troops were to be withdrawn from the temple and areas around it, and that Thailand return to Cambodia artefacts belonging or attached to the temple that were acquired since 1954.




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