Home > Local News > Thai PM: Preah Vihear dispute won’t affect Thai-Cambodian relations

Thai PM: Preah Vihear dispute won’t affect Thai-Cambodian relations

BANGKOK, Jan 3 – As Thai-Cambodian relations remain strained over
the UNESCO according World Heritage site status to the ancient Preah
Vihear temple, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Monday pledged
that the neighbouring countries will not let the issue affect their
bilateral relations.

The Thai prime minister made his statement in response to being asked
about the government’s policy on Thai-Cambodian relations this year.

Mr Abhisit said he does not want to see renewed tension between the two
kingdoms, but he conceded that each country has to protect its national
interest.

“The current approach is ‘Do not raise the World Heritage issue (of the
Preah Vihear Temple) as a problem,’” said the Thai premier.  “What we
earlier agreed with Cambodia is that we would let the appropriate
officials talk to each other to prevent intensifying the conflict.”

Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An will meet with Thai Minister of
Natural Resources and Environment Suwit Khunkitti in Thailand in
January, said Mr Abhisit.

“We hope to see progress in the talks to avoid rising tensions during
the upcoming session of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) scheduled to
be held in June,” the Thai prime minister said.

Mr Abhisit said he will not schedule new meetings with his Cambodian
counterpart Mr Hun Sen to discuss the border dispute as they can meet at
meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The World Court ruled in 1962 that the Preah Vihear temple belonged to Cambodia, although its primary entrance lies in Thailand.

The historic structure has long been a point of contention between the
two Asian neighbours as the exact boundary through the surrounding
grounds remains in dispute, with occasional military skirmishes claiming
a number of lives.

On July 7, 2008, UNESCO listed Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage
site. Under the terms of the listing, Cambodia is required to submit a
management plan for WHC approval.

The WHC last July postponed its discussion of Cambodia’s management plan
for the site to its meeting in Bahrain in June this year, as it was
opposed by the Thai delegation which held that the plan was not
submitted in accordance with standard WHC procedures. (MCOT online news)

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