Official Says P Vihear Border Crossing to Open in December

A Thai border crossing leading to Preah Vihear temple, which was closed in June 2008, is set to open in December, an official said yesterday.

Hang Soth, deputy secretary-general of the Preah Vihear National Authority, confirmed yesterday that the crossing would open in December.

“The border will open soon, like before, in early December,” he said before hanging up.

Lieutenant-General Thawatchai Samutsakhon, commander of Thailand’s 2nd Army Region, reportedly proposed opening the border crossing earlier this month.

Cabinet Minister Sok An said yesterday that the Thai border crossing could open as long as Thailand agreed the temple sits in Cambodia.

“The cooperation can happen, opening the Preah Vihear gate for tourists can be possible,” he told reporters at a press conference on the Koh Pich stampede at the Council of Ministers. “But it must be made sure that Preah Vihear temple is located in Cambodian territory.”

RCAF Tactical Director General Chea Dara declined yesterday to comment on how the planned opening would affect military operations near the temple. The Thai Foreign Ministry did not answer requests for comment.

The border crossing was closed in June 2008 after about 150 Thai demonstrators protested there against Thailand’s support for Cambodia’s proposal to declare the temple a World Heritage Site. Less than a month later, the temple became a World Heritage Site and troop buildups began.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan, who said he was unaware of the crossing’s planned opening, said that if the border route from Thailand to Preah Vihear temple opened, it would symbolize further improvements in diplomatic relations between the two Southeast Asian neighbors.

“If it is true that it is opening, it’s a good sign,” he said yesterday.

Thai-Cambodian relations began to thaw in August after former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, wanted in Bangkok on criminal charges, resigned as an economic adviser to Cambodia. Prime Minister Hun Sen has since met his Thai counterpart, Abhisit Vejjajiva, four times, and both countries have normalized diplomatic relations.

  (Additional reporting by Neou Vannarin)


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