Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thai Web site reignites spat over territory

Thai Web site reignites spat over territory

Thai Web site reignites spat over territory

ANEW Web site launched by Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Saturday has put itself into the forefront of the current border dispute, claiming parts of Cambodia as "lost" Thai territory.

According to local media reports, the new Web site (www.ilovethailand.org), which is intended to improve Thailand's national image, includes a video showing the country losing sections of territory to France, Britain and China.

The video also reportedly describes sections of present-day Cambodia - including Siem Reap, Battambang and the disputed Preah Vihear temple - as lost parts of Thailand.

When contacted Thursday, officials ridiculed the view of history aired on the Web site, saying the Thais were bending the truth for political purposes.

"They are twisting the facts of history. It is completely exaggerated," said Phay Siphan, spokesman for Council of Ministers.

"This is a chance for us to explain that the Thais are using history for their political affairs."

Phay Siphan said there would be a response from Cambodian historians to the claims contained on the Web site but that the Council of Ministers would not take any action on the issue.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said he had not seen the video, but that he would investigate the claims and take action if necessary.

"I will ask the relevant officials to collect information from the Thai government's Web site and translate it. Then we will discuss it later," he said Thursday.

In 1794, Thailand - then known as Siam - annexed Siem Reap and Battambang provinces from the declining Khmer kingdom, but the territories were returned following a March 1907 treaty between Thailand and France.

Thailand retook the territories with Japanese support in 1940-41, but they reverted to Franco-Cambodian control after the war.

Thai Embassy officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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