Cabinet Minister Sok An met the head of the Thai delegation on Wednesday at the ongoing World Heritage Committee meeting in Brazil but the pair failed to come to an understanding over the management of Preah Vihear temple, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said.
“They had about a 45-minute dialogue, but it came to nothing,” Mr Siphan said. “The World Heritage [Committee] set up the meeting for Cambodia and Thailand [but] the dialogue was useless.”
The conference between Mr Sok An and Thailand’s Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti came amid an escalating war of words over the management plan, with the head of Unesco stepping in on Wednesday to call for dialogue.
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has repeatedly said Thailand will try to block Cambodia’s management plan at the meeting because of concerns that the scheme includes a disputed 4.6-square-km area near the temple, according to Thai media reports. Thai and Cambodian troops have faced off at the border near the 11th-century monument since its 2008 listing as a World Heritage Site.
Yesterday the Thai premier took a stronger stance, threatening that Thailand may resign its membership in the 21-country World Heritage Committee if the body approves Cambodia’s management plan, according to the Bangkok Post. The English-language newspaper said the committee was expected to consider the plan today.
But a Unesco spokeswoman has said the World Heritage Committee has no power to approve the scheme, and that Cambodia is only submitting a progress report at the meeting.
Koy Kuong, spokesman for Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the Thai premier’s statements were nothing more than an attempt to drum up political support.
“The ‘yellow shirts’ and [Mr] Abhisit’s government are doing this for the ballot,” he said.
The Bangkok Post also reported yesterday that Thailand closed the national park on the Thai border near Preah Vihear temple for “safety reasons.”
Major General Srey Dek, commander of the RCAF 3rd Division, said yesterday that the situation at the border was stable.
The Thais “can do whatever they want in their land but don’t touch mine,” he said.