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Territorial disputes resolved, Cambodia makes case for Preah Vihear

Territorial disputes resolved, Cambodia makes case for Preah Vihear

Following a breakthrough with Thai authorities over disputed territory, a 19-member Cambodian delegation will leave for Canada later this month to secure World Heritage Site status for the 11th century Hindu monument of Preah Vihear.

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, who is also president of the Cambodian national commission to UNESCO, will lead the delegation to a meeting of the agency's World Heritage Committee in Quebec from July 2 to 10, said Secretary of State for the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, Uch Phoeurn.

The national commission's secretary-general, Tan Theany, and the president of the Preah Vihear National Authority, Ty Yoa, will also attend the meeting, Phoeurn told the Post on June 16.

Preah Vihear, which sits at the summit of an escarpment in the Dangrek mountains, is only one of 10 Cambodian sites nominated for World Heritage listing to be considered at the meeting, Phoeurn said. All were nominated in 1992, when Angkor Wat was listed as a world heritage site.

"I strongly hope that Preah Vihear will be listed," Khmer Civilization Support Foundation chairman Moeung Sonn said at a ceremony in Phnom Penh on June 15 to mark the 46th anniversary of the International Court of Justice's ruling that the temple was owned by Cambodia rather than Thailand.

Thailand had disputed some 4.6 square kilometers of land surrounding the temple, delaying its UNESCO listing. But Cambodia agreed last month to include only the temple in its proposal – a move that Thai authorities have said should pave the way for its acceptance this year.

"It is the first time in Cambodia that the KCSF has celebrated the anniversary," Sonn said at the ceremony, attended by hundreds of people in a park opposite Phnom Penh's Wat Botom.

The event included a photographic exhibition of Preah Vihear temple and information about the ICJ's 1962 ruling in favor of Cambodia.

An appeal for donations during a live screening of the event on CTN raised $24,047, said television presenter Soy Sopheap.

About $14,000 would go toward the cost of the all-day ceremony and the balance would be used for maintaining security at Preah Vihear, Sopheap said.

Meanwhile, an opposition politician has called on the government to release the updated map of the Preah Vihear site that was included in Cambodia's proposal for world heritage listing.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay, the chair of the National Assembly commission for foreign affairs, international cooperation, information and media, said a request to see the map had been sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on June 13.

"We will wait one week and if there is no result we will take action based on the law," Chhay told the Post on June 16.

He said the ministry had an obligation to provide a copy of the map to the National Assembly because it needed to provide advice to the government about Preah Vihear temple.

"They insult the National Assembly because they conceal information," Chhay said.

Attempts to seek a reaction from Ministry of Foreign Affairs on January 16 were not successful.

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