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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Suthep: No order 'yet' from PM to discuss temple row with Cambodia

BANGKOK, Aug 14 -- Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said Saturday that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has not yet ordered him to Cambodia to discuss ending the two countries’ disagreement regarding the ancient Preah Vihear.

Mr Suthep said he still had no details of the planned visited of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to Cambodia during which the UN chief is expected to discuss the temple issue with Cambodian government leaders.

A report by the Associated Press from Phnom Penh on Thursday said that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen will raise the temple issue with Mr Ban during his official visit to Cambodia October 27-28.

Mr Hun Sen on Monday proposed an international conference to discuss the dispute “because the bilateral discussion is at an impasse now.”

The Thai government, however, opposes the idea as unnecessary because the 2000 Memorandum of Understanding, signed by the two governments, provides a sufficient framework for a solution.

Urging the Thai public to not pay much attention to Mr Hun Sen’s criticism of the Thai government, Mr Suthep said both countries are close neighbours and the Cambodian government could “say anything as long as it neither hurts Thai sovereignty nor its image”.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the 11th century temple belongs to Cambodia, and UNESCO named it a World Heritage site in 2008 after Cambodia applied for the status.

The latest problem arose when Thailand objected to Phnom Penh's submitting a management plan for the temple late last month to UNESCO’s World Heritage Commission (WHC). The agency decided on July 29 to defer the decision until it meets next year.

The two countries have been locked in a dispute over a 4.6 sq km patch of land near the cliff-top temple. (MCOT online news)

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