Cambodian delegation to Hague for hearing over disputed border with Thailand

2013-04-09 13:07:45 GMT2013-04-09 21:07:45(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

PHNOM PENH, April 9 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong led a group of border and legal experts to The Hague in the Netherlands on Tuesday to attend an oral hearing in the case concerning the hotly-disputed land around the 11th century Preah Vihear Temple with Thailand.

Speaking to reporters at the Phnom Penh International Airport before his departure, Hor Namhong said the delegation is comprised of Cambodian border affairs and legal experts and three foreign legal experts - each from France, the United States and Britain.

"We're optimistic about the case because the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has given much attention on this case," he said.

Cambodia and Thailand are scheduled to deliver their oral statements on the dispute to the ICJ on April 15-19, and the court is expected to issue a decision on who owns the disputed land around the Preah Vihear Temple later this year.

The forthcoming hearing is the two countries' second round of hearings at the court since Cambodia asked the court in April 2011 to interpret the judgment of June 15, 1962, in the case concerning the Preah Vihear Temple.

The ICJ ruled on June 15, 1962, that the temple was situated in territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia and, in consequence, that Thailand was under an obligation to withdraw any military forces, or guards, stationed by her at the temple, or in its vicinity on Cambodian territory.

Hor Namhong explained that Cambodia asked the court to interpret the judgment because Thailand invaded Cambodia's territory and possessed a piece of land at Phnom Trap, and it claimed the 4.6 square kilometers of land around the Preah Vihear Temple.

Sporadic armed clashes between troops of the two sides took place since July 2008 when the UNESCO listed the temple as a World Heritage Site and the clashes burst out on large scales in February and April 2011 during Thailand's Democrat Party rule, he recalled.

In July 2011, the ICJ ordered that Cambodia and Thailand must immediately withdraw their military personnel from the court- defined Provisional Demilitarized Zone of 17.3 square kilometers surrounding the temple.

The military tensions between the two neighbors have eased since August 2011 when former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's Pheu Thai Party won the general election and led the current government.

The Preah Vihear Temple is located on the top of a 525-meter cliff in the Dangrek Mountains bordering Thailand. It is about 500 kilometers to the northwest of Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.

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