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Surayud: Preah Vihear must benefit both Thailand and Cambodia -sic!-

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The Hague International Court of Justice which handed the ownership of Preah Vihear Temple to Cambodia (Photo: lawyers defending Cambodia at The Hague International Court of Justice in 1962 (Photo: PM counsels mutuality as Preah Vihear World Heritage optionBANGKOK, Jan 25 (TNA) – Any Preah Vihear (Khao Phra Viharn in Thai) border declaration must benefit both countries, Prime Minister Gen. Surayud Chulanont asserted Friday, reiterating Bangkok’s commitment to mutuality in the matter. Bangkok said that Phnom Penh’s plan for a United Nations-related World Heritage listing of the ancient Khmer ruins along the Thai-Cambodian border would not affect Thai sovereignty over disputed areas there.The matter is deeply emotional for both countries. The ancient temple was built over one thousand years ago on a majestic cliff top adjacent to what is now Thailand’s Sisaket province.Gen. Surayud said he had once told his Cambodian counterpart Somdej Hun Sen that a solution to the dispute must lead to a win-win situation for both sides. The Thai prime minister said his government would not insist that Preah Vihear is partly owned by Thailand, but should the mountain be declared a UNESCO world heritage site, the move must benefit both countries.Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungwat told a press conference Friday that Cambodia has tried to list the temple as a World Heritage site since 2005, but Thailand had affirmed sovereignty over part of the area to UNESCO and Phnom Penh.Thai foreign ministry and defense officials are deciding what Bangkok will do as the next step.Gen. Surayud said the Preah Vihear issue must be resolved because it is a chronic issue between the two neighbours.“The issue is under negotiation. The Foreign Ministry has liaised for the negotiation with Phnom Penh all along. We have to discuss the matter carefully because it is a sensitive issue,” he said.The two countries have established a joint committee to settle the boundary demarcation dispute relating to some border areas around the ancient temple, said Mr. Tharit, adding that both parties had agreed to find measures to settle the dispute soon.The World Court in June 1962 judged that Preah Vihear belonged to Cambodia, but Thailand and Cambodia have not yet settled a demarcation agreement on land around the ruins. The temple is approached from the Thai border district of Kantharalak in Si Sa Ket province.The problem arose again Thursday when Lt-Gen. Pichasanu Putchakarn, spokesman of Thai Defense Ministry, hinted that Cambodia had ignored the Thai government’s suggestion that both countries jointly propose the historical site to UNESCO, saying Thailand may lose its land yet to be demarcated if Cambodia did it alone.But Gen. Pichasanu Friday clarified his statements, saying that his earlier remarks were partly his personal opinion and not that of the Thai Defense Council.Senior Thai Army officers who spoke with ranking Khmer officers Friday said the situation has returned to normal. “The Cambodian officials may have misunderstand after learning about (Thursday’s) report,” Gen. Pichasanu said.


Written by Kolbot Khmer

February 17, 2008 at 7:24 pm

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