>Thailand may apply for Preah Vihear Heritage status

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Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama said Sunday he planned to ask the cabinet to approve a plan to applying to Unesco for World Heritage Site protection over the reservoir and staircases leading to Preah Vihear temple.

In a radio interview, Mr Noppadon said he would submit documents related to the stream and the staircases to the cabinet.

If ministers approve his plan, he would then request the United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organisation to consider listing the two places as Thai territory and a World Heritage Site when Unesco holds its heritage meeting in Canada July 2-10.

That is the meeting where Cambodia is to apply for – and probably receive – World Heritage Site status for the actual temple, which was declared the possession of Cambodia by the World Court in 1962.

Mr Noppadon has come under attack for helping and effectively backing the Cambodian application. He has spent the past week trying to defend his position that a statement on disputed land around the temple would not compromise Thai claims.

Noppadon said the delay in seeking registration of the reservoir and the staircases as the World Heritage Site arose because he has been foreign minister only four months and had to solve immediate problems first.

He has discussed his plan with the Cambodian government, which had no objection, he said.

It was likely Unesco may not consider any Thai application next week due to time constraints, but he said it is nonetheless better to apply first and let the organisation’s committee consider the application later. (TNA)

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