Cambodia Aiming to Host 2012 Unesco World Heritage Meeting

Cambodia wants to host the 36th Session of Unesco’s World Heritage Committee in Siem Reap province in 2012, a senior government official said Friday.

The decision to put Cambodia forward to host the session was made dur­ing a recent meeting between Cabinet Minister Sok An and foreign diplomats, said Phay Siphan, spokes­man for the Council of Mini­sters. Mr Siphan could not confirm whether a formal application had been made, but said that there had been significant “agreement” on the subject between Cambodia and Unesco.

“There is a consensus [between Cambodia and Unesco] because we are deputy of the committee and we are working really hard,” he said. “We have lots of hope as we have never hosted this event since be­coming its member.”

Mr Siphan stressed that Siem Reap province had ample experience in organizing international eve­nts, such as the visits of French Pres­ident Charles de Gaulle in the 1960s, and more recently, former US President Bill Clinton, in 2006.

“Cambodia has enough infrastructure to host an international meeting attended by world leaders,” Mr Siphan said, adding that the decision would be made after next year’s Committee meeting in Bahrain.

According to Unesco’s website, the current chairperson of the World Heritage Committee is Bah­raini Minister of Culture and In­formation Mai Bint Muhammad Al Khalifa, whose mandate runs from the end of the 34th session of the Committee, which was held in Bra­zil between July and August, until the end of the 35th session, in Bah­rain in June 2011.

Officials from Unesco could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Sou Phirin, governor of Siem Reap province, said on Friday that his provincial authorities would be delighted to host the event, and were more than capable of providing international leaders with a safe and comfortable stay, citing the visit last week of Slovakian President Ivan Gasparovic, who ended his state visit to Cambodia on Friday.

“For just less than 10 years we have had experience of successfully protecting the safety of 30 heads of state, presidents and prime ministers,” Mr Phirin said. “Siem Reap is very safe and people are friendly.”


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