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Thailand Downplay over Preah Vihear

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February 17, 2008 by sokheounpang

  Saturday January 26, 2008
Bangkok Post
In a bid to downplay conflicts surrounding the Preah Vihear temple on the Thai-Cambodian border, Defence Minister Boonrawd Somtas said Thailand had decided not to protest against Cam-bodia’s unilateral move to have the ancient temple ruins listed as a World Heritage site. The minister said it was a misunderstanding on the part of defence spokesman Pichasanu Putchakarn and his statement was personal, not the resolution of the Defence Council.”It is not a resolution of the Defence Council. It was just an internal meeting of agencies concerned to assess the situation. It was not intended to be announced and the information [given by the defence spokesman] was incorrect and included personal views,” Gen Boonrawd said yesterday. He was referring to a statement by Lt-Gen Pichasanu that Thailand was risking the loss of the disputed areas should Cambodia get the ancient temple listed as a World Heritage site without Thai participation, and that the government should protest and condemn the neighbouring country for the move.Gen Boonrawd also tried to tone down the defence spokesman’s remark that Cambodia attached a ”false” map to claim the disputed areas with its World Heritage application. That referred to the use of a ”different” map to claim the disputed areas, the defence minister explained.Lt-Gen Pichasanu said the Defence Council had not reached a resolution, but it had held a discussion to prepare to take the right position.Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat said Cambodia’s Preah Vihear move had nothing to do with the feared loss of Thai territory.”Whether Preah Vihear will be listed as a heritage site or not is a matter for the World Heritage Committee (WHC). It will not involve the loss of Thai territory,” he said.Thailand has discovered that the information or map that the Cambodian side has proposed to the WHC includes the areas in dispute. Thailand has protested as the border demarcation is not concluded and Thailand’s rights to the areas in question have been recognised, he said.The spokesman said a Thai representative who joined an international committee’s trip to Cambodia on Jan 11-12 had already complained about the territorial issue with the Cambodian authorities.Meanwhile, Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Bahn said he already received an explanation from Lt-Gen Niphat Thonglek, the Thai border affairs director-general, that the matter was a misunderstanding.Gen Tea Bahn said although Cambodia was building a walkway to Preah Vihear on its soil, the construction would not affect Thai territory.”There is a joint committee working on border demarcation. But its work is quite sluggish,” he said.

Written by Kolbot Khmer

February 17, 2008 at 8:29 pm

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