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Cambodia shuts Thai border crossing to disputed temple ខែមិថុនា 24, 2008

Posted by សុភ័ក្ត្រ in News.
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PHNOM PENH (AFP) — Cambodia has closed its border with Thailand at the disputed Preah Vihear temple after a group of Thai protesters rallied near the ruins, an official said Tuesday.

Senior Minister Var Kimhong, chairman of the Cambodian government’s border committee, told AFP the border crossing was closed Sunday evening when a group of Thai protesters rallied near the checkpoint.

“The reason is Thai protesters demonstrated near the gate to the temple and authorities feared that something could happen to visitors to Preah Vihear temple,” Kimhong said, adding he did not know when the crossing would reopen.

The protesters rallied against a decision last week by Thailand’s cabinet to allow Cambodia to apply for the Preah Vihear temple to be listed as a World Heritage Site.

The deal has sparked claims that Thailand would lose territory to Cambodia around the small but emotive site.

Thailand’s foreign minister, Noppadon Pattama, who has been criticised for sealing the deal without seeking parliament’s approval, told reporters in Bangkok that he was working to have the site reopened.

He insisted that he had done nothing wrong and said Thailand would consider listing the entrance to Preah Vihear on Thai soil as a separate World Heritage site.

“We cannot seek a joint World Heritage listing as Cambodia has already rejected that idea, so we would have to seek our own listing,” he said.

Democrats were expected to grill Samak and Noppadon on the Preah Vihear issue Tuesday afternoon as part of a no-confidence debate against the government.

Cambodia last year attempted to have the ancient Hindu site, perched on a mountaintop on the Thai-Cambodia border, listed by the UN’s cultural body UNESCO. But that effort failed, amid rumours Thailand had blocked the deal.

Cambodia began seeking World Heritage status for Preah Vihear nearly six years ago, but the temple has long plagued relations between the two countries.

Both countries have historically laid claim to the site, which sits on Cambodian soil but can only be easily accessed from Thailand.

Former Cambodian king Norodom Sihanouk took Thailand to the World Court in 1962 over the two countries’ claim to Preah Vihear. The court ruled the temple belonged to Cambodia.

A spat in 2003 over Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple — the most significant symbol of the country’s ancient Khmer empire — sparked a night of riots in which Thailand’s embassy and several Thai-owned businesses were burned and looted.

ប្រភព៖ http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5j1HgTui__KyJZfAWoWSnJE3dkr9g

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