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Noppadon faces uphill task over Preah Vihear ខែកក្កដា 6, 2008

Posted by សុភ័ក្ត្រ in News.
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Minister flies to Canada to try to delay the listing of old temple

By Manop Thip-osod & Sanoh Worarak

Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama yesterday admitted he faced an uphill task in trying to delay Cambodia’s bid to get the Preah Vihear temple listed as a new World Heritage site. The minister yesterday left for Quebec, where the World Heritage Committee is holding a meeting with the listing of the temple on the agenda.

Mr Noppadon said before his departure that the Cambodian government had already lobbied many of the 21 committee members, seeking their backing to get the ancient temple listed.

But he promised to do everything he could to oppose and delay the listing by explaining to the committee about the Administrative Court’s injunction against the June 17 cabinet approval of the joint communique he signed with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An one day later.

The two put their initials on the joint communique in a meeting with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) on May 22.

But it took effect only after cabinet approval and an official signing.

The communique gives Thai support to the Cambodian bid for the listing after the government approved the Cambodian map of the temple boundary, which leaves the disputed area between the two countries untouched.

Mr Noppadon told the court on Thursday that the government only followed the previous administration of former prime minister Surayud Chulanont, which he claimed had already supported the Cambodian bid.

He referred to the committee meeting in Christchurch last year.

But Nitya Pibulsonggram, the foreign minister in Gen Surayud’s government, argued yesterday that at the time Thailand made it clear that it opposed a unilateral effort by Cambodia on the issue.

Pongpol Adireksarn, chairman of the Thai World Heritage Committee, confirmed the committee members were well aware of the Thai court ruling.

Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting in Quebec, he said many members were concerned about the impact of the issue on Thai-Cambodian relations.

The issue is expected to be discussed by the committee late tonight Thailand time.

But with problems on the Thai side, Mr Pongpol said he was hoping the panel would make Preah Vihear the last issue to be thoroughly studied and discussed.

To ensure a better understanding, he had talked with delegates from many countries, including South Korea, Morocco and the United States, who were invited by Cambodia to tour the temple, he said.

Democrat party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said the court’s ruling might be too late as Mr Noppadon had gone so far in binding the country with the joint communique to show Thailand’s ”active support” on the issue.

In Si Sa Ket’s Kantharalak district opposite the temple, about 250 protesters yesterday gathered at the stairway leading to the ancient ruins to demand the quick eviction of Cambodian souvenir sellers.

They also called for the government to put the temple issue on the national agenda, hold a public hearing on listing the temple as a World Heritage site and for the two countries to work on boundary delineation.

They vowed to hold a big rally should the government make no progress in 30 days.

ប្រភព៖ http://www.bangkokpost.com/060708_News/06Jul2008_news07.php

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