Thailand Protests Ceremonies Held at Preah Vihear Temple

Thailand strongly protested two events organized by the Cam­bo­dian government near Preah Vi­hear temple, again toughening the rhetoric on the disputed border area after negotiations in Siem Reap last week had seemingly eased tensions.

The Thai Foreign Affairs Min­is­try objected in two statements Fri­day to a ceremony Oct 7 when flags of Cambodia and Unesco were raised near the temple and to a Kathen ceremony Oct 12 at a nearby pagoda. The statements ar­gued that the events were held on Thailand’s territory without its permission and that the Cambodian pagoda occupies Thai land.

“The illegal presence of the ‘Keo Sikha Kiri Savara’ Pagoda in the Thai territory, as well as the above-mentioned activities constitute a flagrant and willful violation of Thai­land’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the statements read.

Cambodian officials strongly rejected the Thai statements Sunday. “Keo Sikha Kiri Svarak Pagoda belongs to Cambodia and is in Cambodia, and Cambodia used this soil 100 years ago,” Council of Min­isters spokesman Phay Siphan said, adding the Thai statements were unreasonable.

The flags were raised on permanent poles erected about 20 meters from the temple. On maps they’ve re­leased, each country claims the pa­goda and the promontory around the temple.

The Thai ministry argued that Cambodian and Unesco symbols could only be displayed within the confines of Preah Vihear temple, as the temple alone was designated a World Heritage site. The ministry also complained about Cambo­dians traveling without permission through what it claims is Thai soil to attend the two ceremonies.

Thai officials could not be reached for comment Sunday.

The Sunday statements were two of many strongly worded ex­changes between Thailand and Cambodia since the start of the four-month-old quarrel, even though in reportedly amicable talks Wednes­day in Siem Reap, both Thai and Cambodian foreign affairs ministers agreed to soon start the demarcation of the disputed area.

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