UN Orders Thai, Cambodian Troops Out of Temple Area

Court tries to end clashes around the Preah Vihear temple
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 18, 2011 5:20 PM CDT
In this photo taken on July 6, 2011, a Cambodian police officer, right, stands near the 11th century Hindu Preah Vihear temple, 152 miles north of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.   (Heng Sinith)
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(Newser) – The UN's highest court created a demilitarized zone around a 1,000-year-old temple today on the disputed border between Cambodia and Thailand, and ordered the armed forces from both countries to withdraw. Both countries claimed they were satisfied with the ruling by the International Court of Justice, meant to end clashes that have claimed about 20 lives in the last three years and have displaced tens of thousands of people from the area around the Preah Vihear temple.

But Thailand's PM said that Thai soldiers will not pull out until the military of both countries agree on the mutual withdrawal; the Cambodian foreign minister said the establishment of a demilitarized zone would "be tantamount to a cessation of aggression" by Thailand. The "provisional demilitarized zone" mapped out by the world court judges calls for Thai troops to move off a ridge line north of the temple and for Cambodian forces to leave the temple complex and move across a deep valley south of the shrine. Although the order is legally binding, the court itself has no means to enforce its rulings.

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