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Friday, March 11, 2011

Cambodia and Thailand agree to UN-sponsored meeting over temple damage

UNITED NATIONS (BNO NEWS) — Cambodia and Thailand on Friday agreed to a United Nations-sponsored meeting over the damage caused to an historic temple during the recent border clashes.

Representatives from both countries will meet to discuss ways to safeguard the Preah Vihear Temple, a World Heritage List site. The meeting will be held at the Paris headquarters of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on May 25.

The meeting was the result of the efforts from Koïchiro Matsuura, UNESCO’s Special Envoy for Preah Vihear. The UN body sent a mission to assess the damage caused to the temple which dates back to the 11th century and is located on the Cambodian side of the border.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said that the upcoming dialogue will focus on the effective conservation of Preah Vihear. In February, clashes between the two countries resumed as both sides claimed the disputed territory in which the temple is located.

Tensions first escalated between the two countries in July 2008 following the build-up of military forces near the Preah Vihear temple. The United Nations Security Council urged both sides to establish a permanent ceasefire after at least 10 people were killed.

In 2008, the Hindu temple, Preah Vihear, was inscribed on the World Heritage List in recognition of its outstanding universal value. It is considered an outstanding example of Khmer architecture and consists of a complex of sanctuaries linked by pavements and staircases on an 800-metre-long axis.

“World Heritage sites are the heritage of all humanity and the international community has a special responsibility to safeguard them. This requires a collective effort that must be undertaken in a spirit of consultation and dialogue,” said Bokova.

The temple dedicated to Shiva, was built in the first half of the 11th century AD. The site is exceptional for the quality of its carved stone ornamentation and its architecture, adapted to the natural environment and the religious function of the temple.

“Heritage should unite people and serve as an instrument of dialogue and mutual understanding and not of conflict,” added the UNESCO Director-General.

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