Thais Reopen Preah Vihear Border Crossing

The Thai border crossing next to Preah Vihear temple was reopened Saturday after being shut down for about a week, Cambodian officials said Sunday.

The Angkorian-era temple in Preah Vihear province can be reached by road from either the Thai or Cambodian side. But on June 29, Thai authorities closed their border gate without notifying Cambodia, deputy provincial governor Sor Sam Ol said. “They should inform the Cambodian authorities that their gate is closed,” he said.

Sor Sam Ol said he did not know exactly what had prompted the closure, but said it could have been due to Cambodian officials asking Thai border police not to visit the temple in uniform. “They are violating Cam­bodian sovereignty because around 30 Thai men in border police uniforms came to the temple,” he claimed.

Thailand’s English-language press reported Friday that the Thai army had refused to abide by a Cambodian order not to patronize the temple in uniform and the ensuing conflict led to the closing of their entrance.

“The Cambodian side claimed that seeing the Thai military in uniform will not be good for tourism in Preah Vihear,” The Nation newspaper reported. Chea San, provincial police chief, said the closing had been due to a misunderstanding. “Now, it is no problem. We talked to each other and tourists are coming normally,” he said.

Thai Embassy First Secretary Chaturont Chaiyakam said that he received no official report of the Thai entrance being closed. “The relationship between officials [from Thailand and Cambo­dia] there is very close…. They are friends. There is no problem,” he said.

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