Decision on Temple Expected Early Today

The World Heritage Commit­tee was expected to hear Cam­bodia’s bid to list Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site on Monday and announce a decision by this morning Cambodia time, officials said.

Joanna Serna-Sullivan, a Unesco spokeswoman, said Cambodia’s proposal was on the docket for Monday and one of 43 sites up for review at the committee’s 32nd Session in Quebec, Canada.

The exact time Cabinet Min­ister Sok An would appear before the committee “depends on how fast or how slow the committee goes,” she said by telephone Monday morning from Quebec, which is 11 hours behind Phnom Penh.

The committee usually decides by consensus whether a proposal is inscribed as a heritage site, Sullivan said, though on occasion, a deadlock is broken by majority vote.

“There are situations where it comes to a vote, but it is rare. The committee prefers to, when discussing a particular issue, proceed through a consensus. This is why it sometimes takes a while,” she said.

Cambodian officials expressed confidence Monday that the Preah Vihear temple would be made a World Heritage Site.

Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kan­harith said the World He­ritage Committee won’t take long to decide on Cambodia’s proposal for the temple, as the committee had decided last year that the site was worthy of inscription.

“No debate is necessary,” he said by e-mail.

According to a source in close contact with the Cambodian delegation in Quebec, the World He­ritage Committee would likely in­­scribe the temple as a World H eri­tage Site late Monday night Cambodia time.

“The expectation is that the temple is going to be inscribed. There is more than a 90 percent chance it will be inscribed,” the source said Monday.

Unesco’s country representative for Cambodia, Teruo Jinnai, said Monday that, regardless of the committee’s decision, the border-hugging temple will continue to demand close talks between Cam­bodia and Thai­land, which has sought to delay the inscription over concerns about disputed territory in the vicinity of the temple.

“In any case, Cambodia and Thailand will need to cooperate, and I am sure they will find a way to work for the safeguarding and development of the temple and the surroundings,” Jinnai said by e-mail.

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