preah vihear temple – Government officials raised three flags over the Preah Vihear temple Friday to symbolically re-emphasize the temple’s status as a World Heritage Site under Cambodian sovereignty.
Culture Ministry Secretary of State Chuch Phoeurn raised a Cambodian flag, Tan Theany, secretary-general of the Cambodian National Commission for Unesco, hoisted the flag of her commission, and Ty Yaw, president of the Preah Vihear Authority, raised a flag emblazoned with the temple’s World Heritage logo.
“You can clearly see [the flags] from the sky,” Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan told reporters who were brought to temple for the occasion. “Clearly see from the East, clearly see from the West, clearly see from back in the North, and the South, and that’s how we proclaim today is a historical day…to protect this site,” Phay Siphan said.
The government organized the event to draw attention to the temple’s special status following the hour-long battle between Thai and Cambodian troops on Oct 15 that resulted in four deaths and superficial stonework damage, he said.
The ceremony, which was preceded by a Buddhist blessing, was not the scheduled visit by Unesco officials to demarcate the boundaries of the site, as incorrectly reported by local media. That visit is scheduled for early December with the expected participation of Unesco officials from Paris and the probable presence of Prime Minister Hun Sen, Chuch Phoeurn said. Thai officials will also be invited.
Shortly after the ceremony, Srey Dek, RCAF commander-in-chief at the temple, and his Thai military counterpart held talks on the frontline where troops from both sides have dug in. Srey Dek said the negotiations went well, but he declined to give details.
Som Bopharoath, Preah Vihear provincial RCAF deputy commander, said that from Monday onward only 60 Thai troops would remain stationed at the frontline. On Friday, Thai soldiers could be seen disassembling their camps close to Cambodian positions.
Renewed border dispute negotiations are scheduled to take place Monday between Thai and Cambodian officials in Siem Reap town.