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Hor Namhong dismisses Thai rally

FOREIGN Affairs Minister Hor Namhong yesterday dismissed as “out of date” arguments advanced by Thai pro-government demonstrators who rallied in Bangkok to protest UNESCO’s listing of Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site for Cambodia.

Roughly 1,000 Yellow Shirt protesters rallied outside UNESCO’s regional office in Bangkok to present a note demanding that the presentation of Cambodia’s management plan for the site – set to take place during a conference that began this week in Brazil – be delayed until disputes about land surrounding the temple are settled.

“The enlistment of Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site is already done,” Hor Namhong said yesterday at a press conference at Phnom Penh International Airport. “Whatever Thailand is doing, this cannot be changed.”

The government of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has said it will oppose Cambodia’s management plan. Hor Namhong said yesterday that he had heard that a Thai delegation had voiced opposition to the plan at the meeting in Brazil, but he did not provide any details.

Spokesmen for the Thai government and foreign ministry could not be reached for comment yesterday.

A report in the Thai newspaper The Nation quoted Yellow Shirt leader Chamlong Srimuang, said to have been one of the organisers of yesterday’s protest, expressing doubt that the move to oppose the plan would be successful.

“We are not certain that the government will succeed in opposing the temple administrative plan,” Srimuang reportedly said.

Meanwhile, more than 20 diplomats from seven foreign embassies based in Phnom Penh – Britain, Australia, Cuba, the Philippines, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam – visited the temple over the weekend to observe the situation along the border, a military official said yesterday.

Chea Dara, deputy military commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces in Preah Vihear, said yesterday that he had informed the diplomats that Thailand could no longer use “monks and laypeople” to invade Cambodia anymore.

“Thai extremists should stop bothering Cambodia, because we will not welcome them,” he said. “We will welcome them with guns.”



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