Officials Deny Report of Preah Vihear Opening

The Preah Vihear provincial governor denied a report from the Thai newspaper The Nation that said Thai and Cambodian authorities will reopen the Preah Vihear temple to visitors from Thailand starting on Dec 8.

Governor Preab Tan said Sun­day there had not been any formal talks about opening the closed border, which has made the temple inaccessible to tourists visiting from Thailand for nearly a year. The Thai government closed the border after complaining that sewage was running across the border into a Thai village’s water supply.

“If the Thais say they want to reopen the border, they have to send us a letter [stating such], because they closed the border. We never closed the border,” Preab Tan said.

Thai Ambassador Chawed Chartswan said he had heard nothing to confirm The Nation’s report and did not know where the paper got its information.

“Talks have been going on, but we have not reached a conclusion.” he said. “Right now we must keep the status quo.”

Preab Tan said that overtures of reconciliation had been made by his Thai counterpart, who has offered to help finance sewer improvements along the border.

“I don’t want the sewage to drain across the Thai border, but right now we don’t have enough money to build a better system,” Preab Tan said.

Preah Vihear’s first deputy governor, Bun Sovann, said he is anxious to see the border re­opened. “We want to have transportation to exchange goods and to communicate with each other,” he said.

With no good roads on the Cambodian side, communities around Preah Vihear temple have been isolated from trade and services since the border closed.

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