World Heritage Site Status Sought for Preah Vihear

There are no tensions with Thai­land over the potential listing of Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site, Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said June 22.

On Saturday, the World Heritage Committee will gather in Christ­church, New Zealand, for a 10-day meeting to review 45 candidates for possible inclusion on the UN Edu­ca­tional, Scientific and Cultural Organ­i­zation’s World Heritage List.

Cambodia has put forward the Preah Vihear temple, a centuries-old Angkorian complex atop a cliff adjacent to the Thai border.

The Bangkok Post reported Thursday that Adul Wichien­cha­roen, chairman of the Thai National Com­mittee on the Convention for the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, expressed concern about Cambodia having lobbied Unesco without Thailand’s participation.

The article also stated that the Thai Foreign Ministry had discussed the Preah Vihear issue with Cambodian officials in January, but the two sides still had many differences to resolve.

Khieu Kanharith said by telephone that there are still some is­sues to work out regarding the extent of the potential heritage site, but both sides agree that Unesco should grant the temple World Heritage status.

“We agree that Preah Vihear would be the World Heritage Site,” he said. “We agree also that both sides would profit from that.”

The only issues that need to be resolved concern how much territory around the temple in both countries will be protected as part of the heritage site, Khieu Kanharith said.

Songchai Chaipatiyut, first secretary at the Thai Embassy, declined to comment on the matter.

An assistant to Unesco Country Representative Teruo Jinnai said that he was too busy to speak with a reporter.

The picturesque temple complex, which at one time was claim­ed by both countries, has long been a cause of heated disputes. In 1962, the International Court of Justice awarded the sandstone temple to Cambodia, but there have been sev­eral disputes between both countries in the ensuing decades over alleged territorial infringements in the vicinity of the temple, where the border has yet to be demarcated.

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