Thursday, 21 May 2009

Thailand warns Unesco over visit to Preah Vihear Temple

Thu, May 21, 2009

By The Nation

Thai Foreign Ministry on Thursday warned UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) that its officials and experts could visit disputed border area near Preah Vihear Temple only with the permission from Thai authority.

The warning was conveyed during a meeting between the ministry's Treaties and Legal Affairs director general Virachai Plasai and Unesco's chief of Information and Knowledge Management Unit Clive Wing.

The meeting on Thursday came as experts from International Councils on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) entered the area early April but Unesco's Assistant Director General for Culture Francoise Riviere informed Thai embassy in Paris about the mission on April 17.

The group of experts landed by a helicopter at the cliff from Cambodia site and entered to the building through the stair channel, according to a press statement issued after the meeting.

The group spent two hours there, it said.

Virachai said Thursday the ministry has informed the Unesco in March that only the main building of the Preah Vihear temple was inscribed as the Unesco World Heritage site.

The wider promontory, cliff and cave are not included so that the Unesco could not pass through these areas without Thai permission.

The Preah Vihear, ruled by the International Court of Justice in 1962, belongs to Cambodia but Thailand claimed its vicinity is under Thai sovereignty.

Unesco's Wing said Thursday the Unesco has been aware of the Thai concern and would be very careful about the conduct.

However he said the Unesco's Bangkok office has no detail about the work of the experts in April since the work is under coordination of office in Paris and Phnom Penh.

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