Thursday, 3 March 2011

UNESCO envoy meets Thai PM after trip to Cambodia

via CAAI

BANGKOK, March 2 -- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) special envoy on the Preah Vihear temple Koichiro Matsuura met Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva again on Tuesday to further listen to Thailand's opinion after returning from Cambodia.

Mr Matsuura met Mr Abhisit and Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs Kasit Piromya on Feb 25 before flying to Phnom Penh the next day for talks with Cambodian officials including Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on ways of reducing tension and promoting dialogue on the preservation of the temple.

Mr Abhisit said after meeting with Mr Matsuura that the latter had told him about his Cambodian trip and asked for additional comments from Thailand.

Then, he would report the fact finding trip to Thailand and Cambodia to UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova and UNESCO would send its proposal to Thailand and Cambodia to consider, said the premier.

He said the proposal would aim to ease tension between the two countries which is related to UNESCO and Preah Vihear Temple.

Mr Abhsit said he believed the result would not affect Thailand's rights over the contested area of 4.6 square kilometres near Preah Vihear temple.

Mr Matsuura, a former director-general of UNESCO (1999-2009) and a former chairman of the World Heritage Committee (1999), was appointed by Director General Bokova to discuss with Thailand and Cambodia measures to safeguard the temple, which was listed as a World Heritage site in 2008.

Meanwhile, UNESCO issued a statement on Wednesday on Mr Matsuura's mission to Thailand and Cambodia, saying that during the trip to Phnom Penh, he had stressed the need to create the conditions necessary for the safeguarding of the 11th century temple.

He also expressed the hope for a lasting dialogue between the two countries with a view to establishing long-term sustainable conservation of the site.

The UNESCO statement said that the UNESCO special envoy did not travel to Preah Vihear during his mission.

According to the statement, following the conclusion of Mr Matsuura’s mission, Ms Bokova expressed her satisfaction that the meetings had taken place and stated that UNESCO would do everything in its power to maintain the dialogue.

She reiterated her statement made just before the special envoy’s mission that “the world’s cultural heritage should never be a cause for conflict,” said the statement.

Tension along the Thai-Cambodian border was renewed after clashes between soldiers of the two countries erupted near the ancient Preah Vihear temple on Feb 4, leading to casualties among troops and civilians of both sides, as well as forcing the evacuation of villagers living in and on both sides of the disputed area. (MCOT online news)

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