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Military attachés to Preah Vihear

Military attachés to Preah Vihear

UNESCO Special Envoy Koichiro Matsuura speaks to reporters on Monday. The government has called on UNESCO to send experts to the Preah Vihear temple complex to evaluate reported damage to the site.

Military attachés from more than 10 embassies in Phnom Penh will visit the Preah Vihear temple and the surrounding border area tomorrow, a military spokesperson told The Post today.

“We will show the delegation the damages, which were caused by shooting from mortar shells from Thailand during the fighting from February 4 to 7,” said Lieutenant General Chhum Socheat, spokesman for the Ministry of Defence.

Chhum Socheat said the Ministry of Defence would lead the delegation, which he added follows on the heels of a similar visit by military attachés to the Thai side of the border organised by the Thai military.

Koichiro Matsuura, a former Director-General of UNESCO who was named as a special envoy for the purpose of addressing the bilateral dispute, visited Bangkok and Phnom Penh, but delayed a scheduled trip to the temple.

Chuch Phoeurn, chairman of the Preah Vihear National Authority, said Matsuura would visit after the arrival of military observers from Indonesia.

Cambodian and Thailand agreed in Jakarta last month to allow 30 Indonesian military observers, 15 on each side of the border, to monitor the situation.

Prior to the agreement, Cambodia had requested peacekeepers under the auspices of the United Nations or ASEAN, while Thailand had said it would reject any third-party intervention.

The Bangkok Post quoted Thai army commander-in-chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha today saying that the army would restrict the access of the military observers.

“We will have to restrict their access to classified information at some level. We are not going to let them see everything,’’ Gen Prayuth said.

“I want it [the Thai-Cambodian border conflict] to remain a bilateral issue and do not want any third country to step in, therefore imposing limits on access is needed.”

Chhum Socheat pledged that no such restrictions would be placed on Indonesian observers by the Cambodian government.

“We don’t have any conditions, they can do everything and go everywhere,” he said.

UNESCO envoy departs

Matsuura departed Phnom Penh today following meetings with Prime Minister Hun Sen and Deputy Prime Minister Sok An to discuss the conflict and damage to the Preah Vihear temple, and said the talks would continue.

“It’s a very fruitful mission… I am very happy about that,” he told reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport before leaving for Japan.

“We have something that UNESCO has to discuss further with the Cambodian government,” Matsuura said, but declined to elaborate.

Ek Tha, deputy director of the Press and Quick Reactions Unit at the Council of Ministers, said today that Sok An met on Monday night with diplomats from Barbados, Mali, Ethiopia and Nigeria, all of which are members of the World Heritage Committee.