Preah Vihear Remains Inaccessible From Thai Side

Preah Vihear temple remains closed to visitors from the Thai side of the border as about 17 demonstrators have camped near the frontier to protest Cambo­dia’s listing of the monument as a World Heritage Site, officials said.

Cambodia closed access to the temple from Thailand indefinitely last week when about 150 Thai protesters descended on the site to voice dissent against their government’s support of Phnom Penh’s bid to list Preah Vihear.

Huang Soth, secretary-general of the Preah Vihear Authority, said Thursday that the Thai protesters are camped 600 meters from the temple inside Thailand.

“Cambodian and Thai authorities have agreed to close it be­cause there are 17 ringleaders still staying near the border, and they are waiting for their leaders from Bangkok,” Huang Soth said.

Provincial level officials from the Thai province Sisaket asked to hold a meeting with their counterparts in Preah Vihear to discuss re-opening the temple, but that meeting was declined, Huang Soth added.

“We did not agree,” he said. “We need an official letter to talk about this case.”

The border closure has also hurt local Cambodian villagers who until recently bought food and other commodities from markets in Thailand.

The territory around the temple on the Cam­bodia side of the border is ex­tremely remote and un­developed.

To alleviate the plight of 340 families living in the vicinity of the temple, 4,000 kg of rice and other foodstuffs including noodles and fish sauce will be delivered Saturday, said Moeung Sonn, a local tourism business owner and director of the recently established Khmer Civili­zation Foun­da­tion.

“Right now they have no other way to buy food and drink after the gate was closed,” Moeung Sonn said Thursday. “We are Cam­bodian, so we have to help each other, and I request donors to provide hu­manitarian funds to help them while the gate is clos­ed,” he add­ed.

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