Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Govt responds angrily to reports of planned Preah Vihear replica

Govt responds angrily to reports of planned Preah Vihear replica

Govt responds angrily to reports of planned Preah Vihear replica

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090526_02.jpg

Thai media say a copy of the famed temple is on the horizon, while Cambodian officials threaten to complain to UNESCO.

Photo by:

TRACEY SHELTON

Cambodian soldiers at the Preah Vihear temple complex earlier this month.

CAMBODIAN officials have reacted strongly to Thai media reports that the country plans to build a replica of Preah Vihear temple along the border, saying  it could violate international law.

Chuch Phoeun, secretary of state at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said that Preah Vihear's status as a UNESCO World Heritage site prohibited the construction of any building surrounding the temple site.

"It is impossible to replicate the temple without permission from the country that owns it," said Chuch Phoeun. "This is an intentional attempt by the Thais to stir up Cambodia because they are jealous of [us]." Chuch Phoeun added that if Bangkok violates the law, Cambodia will report it to UNESCO.

Thai media on Monday reported that Thailand planned to build a copy of the disputed 11th-century temple as a tourist attraction, and that local authorities had been ordered to undertake a feasibility study before the project begins.

It is impossible to replicate the temple without permission from [the govt]

The rumoured Thai plans are the latest shot fired in a border dispute that has been simmering since UNESCO listed Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site in July last year.

ASEAN urged to act

Ahead of the 17th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting, which kicks off Wednesday in Phnom Penh, the Cambodia Watchdog Council (CWC), a local civil society group, called on ASEAN and EU officials to address the ongoing border standoff.

In a statement Monday, the CWC claims that since July 15 last year, Thai soldiers have continually violated Cambodian territory, but that numerous bilateral negotiations have failed.

"The ASEAN and EU members present for this two-day meeting have to raise the issue of Thai incursions into Cambodia," the statement said.

But Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said the Thai-Cambodia border standoff was not on the agenda for the meeting.

"We're not going to stop civil society from expressing their concern on this issue, but the government's principle is to resolve the conflict peacefully and bilaterally," he said.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is scheduled to visit Cambodia on June 12-13, when he is expected to hold border talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen.

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