Thai Papers: Preah Vihear Warning Was Mistake

Thailand’s Defense Ministry on Friday retracted statements warning of diplomatic repercussions if Cambodia continued with its bid to have the Preah Vihear temple in­scribed on the World Heritage List, the Thai press reported.

The Thai Defense Ministry re­sponse follows Thursday statements by ministry spokesman Lieu­tenant General Pichasanu Pu­t­ch­akarn asserting that Cambodia had created “false evidence” in or­der to claim the temple “for its unilateral benefit.”

The Bangkok Post reported Sat­urday that Thai Defense Minister Boonrawd Somtas had said Friday that the spokesman’s comments were made based on an “internal meeting” and represented a “misunderstanding” by Pichasanu.

“It was not intended to be an­nounced, and the information [gi­ven by Pichasanu] was incorrect and included personal views,” Boon­rawd was quoted as saying.

However, the Thai News Agen­cy quoted Pichasanu on Friday as saying the Cambodian government may have misunderstood the news.

Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kan­harith wrote in an e-mail Sunday that the Cambodian government “did not misunderstand the report,” ad­ding that the “Thai Ministry of De­fense should discuss and try to un­der­stand the issue first before making any official statement.”

Khieu Kanharith said the Cam­bo­dian government had “down­played” Pichasanu’s allegations and re­mained steadfast to previous agreements between the countries.

“The Thai Foreign Ministry shows its commitment to discuss the border issue in a [spirit of] mu­tual respect,” he wrote.

The Thai Embassy could not be reached for comment Sunday.

According to a Council of Minis­ters statement issued Saturday, Cambodia’s “High Committee in charge of the inscription file of Preah Vihear on the Unesco World Her­itage List” holds the “view that the utilization of [a] non-existent bor­der dispute as [an] argument in an attempt to delay the inscription pro­cess is an obvious violation of the judgment of the International Court of Justice in 1962.”

In that year, the ICJ ruled that the Preah Vihear temple lay within Cambodia’s borders. The temple was denied a spot on the heritage list during a July 2007 meeting of the World Heritage Committee, the secretariat of which is handled by Unesco, in part because of ob­jec­tions by Thailand.

The statement also announced that the high committee had submitted a progress report to the World Heritage Committee regarding the conditions for conservation of the temple, as well as a report on the progress made in preparing a site management plan. Under conditions laid out last July by the World Heritage Committee, this pro­gress report had to be submitted by Feb 1 for the temple to be potentially in­scribed on the list this year.

Related Stories

Latest News