Prey Vihear Complaints Draw Official Visit

A delegation of national and provincial officials is scheduled to head to Preah Vihear temple today to investigate reports of rising tensions over control of land around the temple, officials said Sunday.

The group, which will include an RCAF general and Preah Vihear Governor Preap Tan, along with several police officials, is scheduled to fly by helicopter to the Thai border and inspect the situation, one provincial official said.

The Council of Ministers asked Preap Tan to come to Phnom Penh to address the matter, and have now dispatched the delegation to gather more information, the official said. The group’s report is scheduled to be given to the Council of Ministers on Tuesday, the official said.

Controversy erupted at Preah Vihear after the Thais tried to evict Cambodians living near the entrance on the Thai side of the border, then closed the border altogether, making entrance into the temple all but impossible.

Prime Minister Hun Sen met with Thai Ambassador Asiphol Chabchigchaidol Friday, and afterward downplayed reports of rising tensions between the two countries.

“I cannot take news from the newspapers seriously. I have not got any formal report yet,” Hun Sen said.

The topic did not even come up in their discussion, Hun Sen said.  “The ambassador paid a fare­well,” he said. Asiphol is leaving his post after three years in Cambodia.

Cambodia, which has a total of 1,000 soldiers and policemen at the border, says they are there to ensure the safety of Cambodian citizens. Cambodia is building a road and better entrance to the temple from the Cambodian side. In the meantime, Hun Sen said, the two countries are going to have to work together.

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