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Border talks begin in Paris

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A Cambodian soldier walks near the chipped corner of a building at Preah Vihear temple, near the Thai-Cambodian border, in February.

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An met yesterday with Thai officials in Paris at UNESCO- mediated talks to discuss damage sustained by Preah Vihear temple during border clashes that erupted between the two countries in February.

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said yesterday that Cambodian officials had presented a progress report on their development of a management plan for the ancient temple to UNESCO during the talks.

The management plan, which the Kingdom began working on following the declaration of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2008, has consistently drawn stiff opposition from Thailand, sentiments Thai officials reiterated again yesterday.

Sok An’s Thai counterpart during the talks, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti, yesterday called on the World Heritage Committee to delay the consideration of the plan for another year, The Nation newspaper reported.

“We should stop fighting and instead cooperate to have the boundary demarcated via the [Thai-Cambodian] Joint Boundary Commission,” Suwit reportedly said.

“Once the boundary demarcation is completed, this problem would be resolved. Cambodia would then have the freedom to do what it wants on its own land.”

Hang Soth, director-general of the Preah Vihear National Authority, said yesterday that Thailand had consistently proposed delaying the management plan since a contentious WHC meeting held last year in Brazil.

“It is their trick; they want to prolong [the implementation] our plan,” he said.

“The WHC will not take their proposal for consideration.”

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