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Temple talks wrap up

Cambodia presented evidence at a meeting in Paris yesterday in support of its claim that Thailand damaged Preah Vihear temple during clashes along the border in early February, as the countries prepare for related hearings in an international court next week.

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An wrapped up a two-day meeting to discuss how to safeguard the 11th-century temple with Thai officials at UNESCO headquarters yesterday.

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said Sok An had submitted documents showing damage to Preah Vihear from 414 shells fired by Thai troops.

“Cambodia hopes that UNESCO … will send experts to evaluate and fix the temple,” Phay Siphan said.

Thani Thongphakdi, spokesman for the Thai Foreign Ministry, said late yesterday that he did not yet know the outcome of the meeting in Paris and could not comment on it.

He added, however, that Thailand had taken “great pains to target only military targets” in the clashes, and said that Cambodia had violated international conventions on the protection of cultural property by stationing troops at the temple.

Phay Siphan countered that Cambodia’s soldiers were at the temple only to protect it.

Meanwhile, foreign ministers from both sides will travel to The Hague next week to attend hearings on the border dispute near Preah Vihear at the International Court of Justice, the UN body charged with settling disputes between states.

The ICJ ruled in 1962 that Preah Vihear temple is on Cambodian soil, but tension has continued in years since due to competing claims over adjacent territory.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY THOMAS MILLER

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