Cambodia was unaware of the abrupt cancellation of this week’s talks with Thailand and UNESCO over the disputed Preah Vihear temple, a government spokesman said April 30, adding that the government has been kept in the dark over rescheduling of the mediation session.
Both countries were invited by the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization to a two-day meeting in Paris starting May 2 to discuss the listing of the ancient temple on the Thai-Cambodian border as a World Heritage Site.
However, less than a week out from the meeting, Thai officials said UNESCO had postponed the Paris talks and the UN organization would now send its coordinator on the matter, Francesco Caruso, to meet separately with the Thai and Cambodian governments.
But Phay Siphan, spokesman of Cambodia’s Council of Ministers, said Phnom Penh had not been informed of any changes to the meeting.
“We did not receive any official notification from UNESCO in Paris about canceling the meeting between Thailand and Cambodia over the listing of the ancient temple,” Siphan told the Post.
He also downplayed the importance of the talks, saying the key issue of ownership over the Preah Vihear ruins had been settled in 1962 when the International Court of Justice ruled they were within Cambodia’s borders.
“We don’t have any conflict with Thailand and it is not necessary to have a coordinator when there isn’t a problem, because the temple is the sovereign property of Cambodia,” Siphan said.
He added that the Cambodian government expected Preah Vihear to be officially approved as a World Heritage Site when the UNESCO committee next meets in early July.