Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thailand endorses Cambodia map of disputed temple

BANGKOK, June 17 (Xinhua) -- Thailand's Cabinet on Tuesday endorsed a new map of the disputed Preah Vihear temple drawn by neighboring Cambodia, which would pave the way for Cambodia's application to list the temple as a World Heritage Site.
Cambodia will present the yet-to-be disclosed new map as a key document to experts of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at a meeting in Quebec next month.
Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama said Tuesday the disputed and undemarcated 4.6-square kilometer area surrounding and adjacent to the temple complex is not included on the map, addressing Thai public controversy over sovereignty claim, according to Thai News Agency.
The minister also emphasized that all details in the new map would be released after the World Heritage Committee meets in July to consider the matter.
The 21-nation committee is scheduled to meet in Quebec beginning July 2 to decide whether or not to grant the world heritage site status to the temple.
UNESCO had made clear that the two neighbors must first settle their differences before it accepts the application of the Cambodian government to list the temple as world heritage site.
Historically, both Thailand and Cambodia have claimed the ancient Khmer-style temple complex and the surrounding area overlapping disputed border territories of the two countries.
The International Court of Justice in Hague ruled in 1962 that the temple complex itself, which stands atop a cliff, belonged to Cambodia. But the only convenient access to the temple lies on the side of Thailand in Kantharalak district of the northeastern province of Si Sa Ket.
Government critics and opposition have blamed the current government for "giving away Thai territory".
The anti-government group People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD)on Tuesday issued a statement calling for Thai ambassadors, charged' affairs, consuls, and officials of the Foreign Ministry to come out to "maintain the country's sovereignty" regarding the Preah Vihear temple.
The PAD, which has staged continuous rallies in central Bangkok since May 25 to call for the current Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to step down, said it would demonstrate before the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday to pressure the government.
Editor: Yan Liang

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