THE chairman of UNESCO's executive board expressed support Wednesday for further discussions between the Cambodian and Thai governments related to the dispute over Preah Vihear temple.
In a move Thailand opposed, UNESCO listed the temple as a World Heritage site last July, triggering a troop buildup on both sides of the Thai-Cambodian border.
During a meeting at the Council of Ministers, Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yai, who is visiting Cambodia for one week, commended Cambodian officials for their "patience" in ongoing border talks and encouraged them to continue to work towards a peaceful resolution to the dispute, which led to clashes that claimed four lives last October.
Because of the temple's designation as a World Heritage site, he said, the talks concern not only Cambodians but people the world over.
Deputy Prime Minsiter Sok An said during the meeting that the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces would defend the temple and the border. He also said Cambodian officials would strive to keep negotiations productive and amicable and to strengthen ties with the Thai government.
"We are never violent and we never invade other countries," Sok An said.
In addition to visiting Preah Vihear, the UNESCO official said he would visit Siem Reap and other provinces during his visit to the Kingdom, which ends on Tuesday next week. He said he was excited to visit many of the Kingdom's "wonderful" temples.