>Thailand, Cambodia to discuss disputed temple’s World Heritage status in Paris

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BANGKOK, May 18 (Xinhua)— Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama (pictured) said Sunday he would travel to France on May 22-23 to meet with Cambodian and UNESCO officials to discuss the Cambodian government’s plan to register the ancient Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site.

Noppadon said he had met Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An recently and discussed the plan, with the Cambodian official becoming more flexible and wanting to settle the dispute with Thailand amicably, according to state media Thai News Agency.

He emphasized that both countries would receive equal benefits and that the Thai government would not give away overlapping areas claimed by both countries.

Thailand has said it welcomed the Cambodian government’s move to register the historic Phreah Vihear temple complex as a UNESCO World Heritage site, but also said the Phnom Penh government must settle a disputed 4.6 square kilometer area surrounding the temple, so that both countries could jointly manage the area.

UNESCO’s stance is that the two neighbors must first settle their differences before the registration of the heritage site can take effect.

The issue regarding the ownership of the historic site, dated back to the 9th century, has been long disputed between the two neighbor countries. Previous rulings by the International Court of Justice, commonly known as the World Court, in Hague have recognized the temple as belonging to Cambodia.

It is widely understood by both sides that the Preah Vihear temple building itself stands atop a cliff inside the Cambodian territory, but the only convenient access to the temple lies on the side of Thailand in Kantharalak district of the northeastern Thai province of Si Sa Ket.

Editor: Amber Yao
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