Border Talks Deadlocked On Preah Vihear Temple

A meeting of the Joint Bor­der Commission charged with demarcating the Thai-Cam­bodian boun­d­­­­­ary ended without re­sults Wed­nesday night in Bang­kok, with Thai and Cam­bodian delegates in a deadlock over what name to give the Preah Vihear temple, said the leader of the Cambodian delegation.

Thailand insists on including the temple’s Thai name in English-language documents, by using the phrase “Phra Viharn/Preah Vi­hear,” a proposition Cambodia refuses, said Var Kim Hong, Cambodian co-chairman of the commission.

“Cambodia did not agree and strongly objected to signing the negotiation documents when Thailand used ‘Phra Viharn’ on documents used in negotiations,” he said by telephone Thursday. ‘Preah Vihear’ is the internationally recognized name of the site, he added.

The delegates agreed to work on demarcating the border around the temple and not to send more troops there, he added, announcements that were already made at the last JBC meeting in November. The troops’ withdrawal is a discussion for the defense ministers, he added.

Minister of Defense Tea Banh and his Thai counterpart Prawit Wongsuwan are scheduled to meet today in Phnom Penh, said ministry Secretary of State Phann Nguon. He declined to give more details about the agenda of the talks.

The naming of the 11th century temple was already a point of contention in the November talks, but Thailand has frequently re­ferred to it by its Khmer name in the past.

An article published Wednesday in Bangkok’s The Nation newspaper demonstrated that the Thai government only switched to the Thai spelling in its official communiques in late August. It pointed to an Aug 6 news release, then still available on the Thai Foreign Affairs Ministry website, that referred to the temple as “Preah Vihear.”

The ministry has apparently since attempted to redact every use of the phrase in its Web archives. On Thursday evening, 18 news releases about the temple originally published between February and August 2008, including the one The Nation referred to, had a new date stamp—Feb 4, 2009. Almost every reference to the temple is now “Phra Viharn,” though a handful of Khmer spellings still remain unchanged.

Officials at the Thai Foreign Affairs Ministry did not return

multiple requests for comment Thursday.



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