>Thai Army told to be quiet over Preah Vihear temple row

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Noppadon (L) shook hand Sok An (R) during their talks over Preah Vihear in Paris on 24th May 2008.

Noppadon doesn’t want ties with Cambodia hurt

Saturday June 14, 2008
THANIDA TANSUBHAPOL & WASSANA NANUAM
Bangkok Post

Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama has asked the supreme commander to order military officers who have no authority to refrain from giving interviews about the disputed Preah Vihear temple. The move came after an army source complained to the media on Thursday that a new Cambodian map of the Preah Vihear temple was found to encroach on Thai territory by up to 10 metres in two critical areas.

Mr Noppadon said he had asked the ministry’s permanent secretary Virasakdi Futrakul to talk with Supreme Commander Gen Boonsrang Niempradit and insist his subordinates not give interviews about sensitive state issues.

”Just think about who will benefit from this. Don’t hide by identifying yourself as ‘a source’. I don’t want ill-intentioned people to derail this smooth-running train,” said Mr Noppadon.

He warned those who have no authority to give interviews to refrain from saying anything that could affect Thailand’s relations with Cambodia.

”I have the authority to speak about this issue, so let me speak alone. If anybody dares to give interviews, please use your real name. I will let the defence minister warn him,” said Mr Noppadon.

He also advised people not to arouse nationalistic sentiment and not to let politics damage national benefits.

He was referring to the protest by residents of Si Sa Ket province over the listing of the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site and about Cambodians building houses and shops beyond Cambodia’s border with Thailand.

Mr Noppadon said the issues will be resolved step by step. He noted that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his deputy Sok An were cooperating with Thailand on the temple issue.

The Foreign Ministry will submit the new map to the National Security Council (NSC) and the cabinet to endorse next week, said the minister.

He said all problems about the new map have been resolved now that Thai agencies have verified the map against the actual site.

”I have already discussed this issue with the Cambodian side and I will not do anything on which I can be attacked later,” said Mr Noppadon.

Cambodia handed the new map to Thailand on June 5 for consideration after both countries agreed in Paris late last month at a Unesco-brokered meeting to draw up the new map.

The Phnom Penh government plans to submit the map to the Unesco committee later this month to propose the temple ruins as a World Heritage Site.

The Unesco committee will meet early next month in Quebec, Canada.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Tarit Charungwat said everything had been done openly.

”The government has acted with full transparency, using the principle of national sovereignty as the guiding force,” he said.

”When the work has been done in accordance with the proper process, we can explain it accurately,” he said.

Gen Boonsrang yesterday admitted that Mr Noppadon had called him to request the military not grant any interviews about Preah Vihear.

”He told me the military should not give any interviews related to the Preah Vihear temple as the issue is now being handled by the Foreign Ministry.

”If an interview is given, it may cause some trouble. The Foreign Ministry will hold talks with Cambodia over the issue,” said Gen Boonsrang. He has already instructed his subordinates to hold their tongues.

Gen Boonsrang said the Foreign Ministry, which is the key negotiator, must take the ultimate responsibility.

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