Saturday, 20 June 2009

Thai PM aims to 'clear the air' with Cambodia's Hun Sen

MCOT English News

BANGKOK, June 19 (TNA) – Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva stood firm Friday over Thailand’s objection to UNESCO's World Heritage Committee listing of Preah Vihear temple, but said he would clear all doubts over the issue with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The Thai premier made the remarks after his Cambodian counterpart expressed "deep regret" over Thailand's stance and doubted that the plan would be successful.

The Thai Cabinet early this week assigned Suwit Khunkitti, Minister for Natural Resources and Environment, to ask the World Heritage Committee meeting in Seville, Spain, next week to review its decision to register Cambodia’s unilateral listing of the Hindu temple.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) registered the 11th century temple as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2008, despite protests by Thailand, leading to armed clashes and loss of lives at the Thai-Cambodian border.

"I have no intention to cause any problem with Cambodia nor hurt his (Hun Sen’s) feelings. What Thailand is doing is to let the World Heritage Committee and UNESCO realise that peace is of utmost importance to the region," Mr. Abhisit said. "I believe that if he understands my intention, he would have no regret. We will try to avoid any confrontation."

Mr. Hun Sen said on Thursday he deeply regretted that the Thai prime minister has raised the issue now because it was not part of their discussions last week.

Mr. Abhisit explained the Preah Vihear issue was not raised at last week's discussion with Mr. Hun Sen during his one-day visit to the neighbouring country but both countries did agree to avoid further clashes and resolve the dispute through existing mechanisms. They also pledged not to have the dispute affect other bilateral cooperation.

Meanwhile, Thai army chief Gen. Anupong Paochinda said the situation on the Thai-Cambodian border near Preah Vihear Temple was normal.

Gen. Anupong said he had discussed the situation with Cambodian military leaders, and that as attempts have been made by both countries to avoid any armed conflict and troop redeployments are being considered. (TNA)

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