Saturday, 14 June 2008

Cabinet to endorse new map, enabling Cambodia to propose temple to Unesco

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation
Published on June 14, 2008

The Cabinet will endorse Cambodia's new map next week, enabling Phnom Penh to submit its proposal to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) to list the Hindu temple of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site, Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama said yesterday.

The military was reportedly dissatisfied with the new map Cambodia sent to Thailand as it encroached on some 10 metres of Thai territory.

"I have worked with Cambodia on the issue and there is no problem now," Noppadon told reporters. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his deputy Sok An were very cooperative in settling the differences, he added.

Thailand and Cambodia have locked horns since Bangkok opposed Phnom Penh's plan to list the temple with 4.6 square kilometres of overlapping area claimed by both sides.

After several rounds of negotiations, Cambodia agreed last month to list only the temple and sent the new drawing of the proposed site for Thailand's consideration.

Residents in northeastern Si Sa Ket province protested, wanting the Cambodian community to be removed from overlapping areas.

Sompong Sucharitkul, former Thai ambassador to The Hague, said the Kingdom had never admitted to Cambodia's sovereignty over the temple despite the International Court of Justice's ruling in 1962 in favour of Cambodia.

The government should not commit to anything that could be deemed as recognition of Cambodia's sovereignty, said the former diplomat, who was close to the case when it was being considered by the court.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat said the government had handled the case with transparency and would not allow the country to lose any sovereignty over territory.

"We are working on the World Heritage issue, so please do not mix this up with other issues that could complicate the matter and create misunderstandings between the two countries," Tharit said.

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