Tensions eased along disputed section of the Cambodia-Thailand border
(1 September 2009)After more skirmishes between Thai and Cambodian troops broke out in July, tension along the undemarcated boundary section between the two countries at the temple of Preah Vihear has eased thanks to diplomatic efforts. Following an agreement reached at the Cambodia-Thailand Joint Committee meeting held in Bangkok on 5 August, the Thai army removed barbed wire fencing that enclosed an area extending more than 4.5 square kilometres around the Preah Vihear temple. Reports suggest that the Thai military has significantly reduced the number of its soldiers around the temple. Cambodia’s prime minister Hun Sen announced on 22 August that Cambodia would do the same hoping that the respective troop reductions will reduce the chances of future clashes.
Although the reduction of troops around the temple will certainly reduce tension on the ground, the two sides have not yet agreed definition of the boundary around the temple. The 1962 judgment of the International Court of Justice ruled that the temple was located on Cambodian territory but the boundary around the temple was never clearly defined or marked on the ground. Perched at the edge of steep escarpment, the temple of Preah Vihear can only be accessed through Thai territory which poses significant border management challenges.
Sources: ‘Cambodia pulls back troops from disputed temple’ Reuters News, 27 August 2009; ‘Thai military officers to visit Cambodia to ease tension’ Thai News Service, 25 August 2009; ‘Cambodian commander informs Thai army chief of troop pullout’ BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific, 25 August 2009; ‘Cambodia to reduce troops at the border temple’ Agence France Press, 22 August 2009; ‘Thai-Cambodian border backs to normal’ Thai News Service, 12 August 2009.