Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong summoned Thai Ambassador Viraphand Vacharathit to a meeting Thursday to strongly reject statements made by Thailand that claimed the road leading to the Preah Vihear temple and the pagoda nearby were on Thai territory.
Hor Namhong said he received three letters from Thailand with different claims on Nov 7, 12 and 13, and had not responded to them earlier because he was working on his Nov 12 meeting with Thai Foreign Affairs Minister Sompong Amornvivat in Siem Reap town.
“The road to the temple is in Cambodia, and we have the right to use this soil and do not need to ask for permission from another country at all,” Hor Namhong said at a news conference after his meeting with the ambassador.
The letters in question were not released to reporters, but in two statements issued Nov 14, the Thai Foreign Affairs Ministry protested over two ceremonies held near the Preah Vihear temple. The Thai ministry claimed that Cambodia should have asked for Thailand’s permission to organize a flag-raising ceremony at the temple and a Kathen ceremony at the pagoda. Both Thailand and Cambodia claim the territory in question where the ceremonies were held.
Hor Namhong also complained about Thailand’s insistence on referring to Preah Vihear temple by its Thai name—Phra Viharn.
“Cambodia does not know this word [Phra Viharn]; even the ICJ said Preah Vihear,” the minister said, referring to the 1962 decision by the International Court of Justice granting the temple to Cambodia.
Hor Namhong said Thailand also complained in its letters about Cambodians building houses and a hotel in Banteay Meanchey province between border posts 48 and 49, an area Thailand also disputes, but he declined to take questions about it.
The Thai Foreign Affairs ministry in Bangkok said it was not ready to comment on Thursday’s meeting in Phnom Penh.
“As we are expecting reports and reaction from our Thai [ambassador] in Phnom Penh, it is premature for us to give any response to your questions,” the Thai ministry said in an e-mail Thursday night while also referring back to the Nov 14 statements.