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Thailand never supported Cambodia on temple claim


July 6, 2008

Former FM: Thailand never supported Cambodia on temple claim
Former Thai foreign minister Nitya Pibulsonggram said Saturday that Thailand never supported Cambodia's unilateral application to register Preah Vihear temple as a Unesco World Heritage site, state news agency TNA reported.

His denial followed current Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama who told the Constitution Court Friday that it was the previous government of Gen Surayud Chulanont, installed by the September 2006 coup-makers, which had pushed and supported attempts by the Cambodian government to register the temple as a World Heritage site, and not himself.

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Noppadon said the previous government made the commitment during the 31st meeting of the World Heritage Committee meeting, held in Christchurch, New Zealand, in June last year.

But Nitya said the Thai government, while represented at last year's meeting, did not agree that Cambodia should apply for the listing of the temple alone without cooperation from Thailand, forcing the World Heritage Committee to postpone the decision as Cambodia did not receive sufficient votes to support it.

Thailand at last year's meeting reiterated that close cooperation between the two countries was needed and that both should also discuss plans to jointly manage the area, Nitya said, adding that Thailand's support depended upon conditions being met.

Nitya said Thai representatives attending a meeting in the Cambodian town of Siem Reap in January this year again opposed the Cambodian government's idea to apply to register the temple after it proposed an earlier map which included disputed area claimed by both countries.

The Unesco World Heritage Committee will again consider the matter at the current annual meeting in Canada. The issue is expected to be taken up Sunday.

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