UN world court orders Thai and Cambodian troop withdrawal

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The UN's highest court on Monday ordered Thailand and Cambodia to immediately withdraw their troops from a disputed area around an ancient temple on the border between the two Asian neighbours.

"Both parties should immediately withdraw their military personnel currently present in the provisional demilitarised zone and refrain from any military presence within that zone," said the order, read by International Court of Justice president Judge Hisashi Owada at a sitting in The Hague.

Cambodia in late April launched a bitter legal battle before the ICJ in which it asked for an interpretation of a 1962 ICJ ruling around the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple.

It also asked the court, while judges were pondering the request, to approve provisional measures including an immediate Thai troop withdrawal and a ban on all Thai military activity there.

Although Thailand do not dispute Cambodia's ownership of the temple, secured by the 1962 ruling, both Phnom Penh and Bangkok claim the 4.6-square-kilometre (1.8-square-mile) area surrounding the Khmer complex.

© 2011 AFP

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