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NEWS UPDATES 7 February 2010

Cambodia lambasts Google over disputed Thai border map

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Cambodia has accused Internet giant Google of being "professionally irresponsible" over its map of a ancient temple at the centre of a border dispute with Thailand, a letter seen by AFP Saturday showed.

The Google map "places almost half of the Khmer (Preah Vihear) temple in Thailand and is not an internationally recognised map," said the letter written by the secretary of state of the Cambodian Council of Ministers, Svay Sitha. He described the map as "radically misleading".

"We, therefore, request that you withdraw the already disseminated, very wrong and not internationally recognised map and replace it," Svay Sitha wrote.

The complaint was made as Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen was Saturday making his first visit to the 11th century Preah Vihear temple.

Cambodia and Thailand have been at loggerheads over their border for decades. Nationalist tensions spilled over into violence in July 2008, when the Preah Vihear temple was granted Unesco World Heritage status.

Four soldiers were killed in clashes in the temple area in 2008 and three more in a gunbattle last April. Smaller flare-ups continue to be reported between troops in the area.

The border has never been fully demarcated, partly because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia.

Relations between the neighbouring countries deteriorated further in November after Hun Sen appointed ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who lives abroad to escape a jail term for corruption, as an economic adviser.

The World Court ruled in 1962 that the temple belonged to Cambodia, although the main entrance lies at the foot of a mountain in Thailand. The exact boundary through the surrounding grounds remains in dispute.


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