Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cambodia lambast Google Earth for locating temple in Thai soil

Phnom Penh - The Cambodian government sent a strongly-worded letter Friday to US internet giant Google, complaining that its online Google Earth map incorrectly places parts of the 11th century Preah Vihear temple in Thailand.

The letter comes ahead of an expected visit this weekend by Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen to the temple, which is situated on land claimed by both Cambodia and neighbouring Thailand.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan told the German Press Agency dpa he had sent an initial letter to Google three years ago asking it to remedy the problem, but had received no response.

Friday's letter called on Google to withdraw the map, calling its demarcation of the border "radically misleading and totally misguided" for showing "almost half of the temple in Thailand."

The International Court of Justice awarded Preah Vihear temple to Cambodia in 1962, but did not rule on nearby land that is claimed by both nations.

Google's map, which shows the yellow border line running through the contested temple, "is devoid of truth and reality and professionally irresponsible, if not pretentious," the letter stated.

Over the past 18 months Thai nationalists have used the Preah Vihear issue to stoke tensions, to which the visit by Hun Sen may add.

Phay Siphan said he had no official confirmation that Hun Sen would visit Preah Vihear temple at the weekend, but said people expected him to be there.

"Everyone is talking about it and expects to see [Hun Sen] on the top [of the temple] to pay his respects to Cambodian culture," Phay Siphan said late Friday.

He added that the area was "very stable, and there are no irregularities. Soldiers are chitchatting with each other."

The relationship between Cambodia and Thailand has been tense for more than a year with sporadic clashes between troops in the area around the temple.

Much of the border between the two countries has yet to be demarcated.

Diplomatic relations plunged to a new low in October after Phnom Penh appointed Thailand's fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra as a government adviser.

Cambodian leader Hun Sen wants World Court to settle border dispute with Thailand

O SVAY, Cambodia (AP) - Cambodia will complain to the World Court that Thailand is occupying its land, the prime minister said Tuesday while visiting the territory at the heart of a bitter border dispute.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said Thailand has encroached on land around the landmark Preah Vihear temple, in northern Cambodia, which the court awarded Phnom Penh in 1962.

Thailand acknowledges Cambodian sovereignty over the temple, but both claim 1.8 square miles (4.6 square kilometers) of nearby land. The countries' troops have clashed there several times.

"Cambodia has reached the limits of its patience," Hun Sen said in a speech Tuesday. He said he also would ask the United Nations to help solve the border issue.

Nationalist passions have run high at the border since 2008, after Thailand first backed, then opposed Cambodia's bid to name the 11th-century temple a U.N. World Heritage site.

Cambodia and Thailand share a 500-mile (800-kilometer) land border, part of which has never been clearly demarcated because each country relies on different maps.

Cambodian-Thai relations worsened late last year when Cambodia named former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra an adviser on economic affairs.

A Thai court in 2008 sentenced Thaksin in absentia to two years imprisonment for corruption, but Cambodia rejected a formal request for his extradition.

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