Gov’t Asks Thailand to Stop Using Temple as Political Tool

The government on Friday said that bilateral discussions with Thailand on disputed border territory in Preah Vihear province would go ahead as long as rhetoric involving the Preah Vihear temple stops and efforts focus strictly on the demarcation of the border.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was quoted in Thai newspapers this week as saying that he would not send government officials to Cambodia for talks about the temple until Cambodia expressed interests in bilateral discussion on the matter.

“In recent days the Thai prime minister has talked again and again about the Preah Vihear issue,” said Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong at a news conference in Phnom Penh on Friday. “He used the listing of the Preah Vihear temple on the World Heritage list as a reason for tension along the border.”

Mr Namhong said comments made by Mr Abhisit that the border issue would only be resolved if Cambodia and Thailand agreed to co-ownership over the temple were fantasy. It was unclear which comments made by the Thai premier Mr Namhong was referring to.

“I would like to inform the Prime Minister [Abhisit Vejjajiva] that this is a dream,” he said. “This is a dream that will not happen.”

Mr Namhong also reiterated comments from Prime Minister Hun Sen this week that Cambodia wants to solve the matter through peaceful means.

“In the past few years and now Cambodia wants to resolve the problem between the two parties peacefully,” he said. “We are ready” to talk.

Thai newspaper The Nation reported Friday comments made by Mr Abhisit looking to calm the mounting tensions between the two counties.

The newspaper reported that Mr Abhisit spoke out against a planned rally being organized by the People’s Alliance for Democracy on Saturday for the scrapping of a memorandum of understanding signed in 2000 agreeing to demarcate the border.

The latest bout of diplomatic tensions between the two countries came after Cambodia submitted a management plan on the temple to the World Heritage Committee in Brazil last week.

 

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