Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva interpreted a letter from the Cambodian king’s adviser as a welcome gesture, saying the idea to make the Preah Vihear a symbol of reconciliation between the two countries sounded good.
“The Preah Vihear has historical and cultural values which could create peace and reconciliation between the people of two countries,” he said.
“But if we take advantage of the issue for territorial boundary purposes, people on both sides won’t accept it.”
The Thai government has objected to the world heritage inscription on the Preah Vihear for fear of territory loss in the disputed areas adjacent to the temple.
In a letter to Abhisit recently, Prince Sisowath Thomico, an adviser to King Norodom Sihamoni, said the two countries should not use the territorial dispute to spoil “harmony” in the region.
“Raising territorial claims is a futile attempt that flies in the face of history, and that harms our people by diverting significant resources that could otherwise be invested in development,” the prince’s letter was quoted as saying by the Phnom Penh Post.
Abhisit acknowledged the letter but said he had not yet received the copy. It was unclear whether the letter is a personal idea or reflects real opinion in the Cambodian government, he said.
Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said the Thai government interpreted the letter as a personal one to express goodwill and cordial relations between the two countries.
The foreign ministry would read and offer an official interpretation of the letter later, he said.
The letter was sent when Thailand and Cambodia were both claiming victory over the World Heritage Committee’s decision.
Thailand saw a victory in the committee’s decision to consider the temple management plan at its next session in 2011, rather than reading reports submitted by Cambodia during the session in Brazil last week.
Thailand expressed its concern that Cambodia might take the areas to the west and north of the temple, which are subject of a border dispute with Thailand, as buffer zones for the heritage-listed property.
Cambodia argued it had not taken the areas – and the committee decision would not deter it from implementing the plan it had submitted to the committee months ago.
Nationalist movements in Thailand are pressuring the government to oppose all Cambodian moves and activities at the Preah Vihear. They called on the government to use military force to exercise ‘Thai sovereignty’ in the disputed areas near the temple. “Peaceful ways might cause loss of territory,” said Panthep Puapongpan, spokesman of the People’s Alliance for Democracy.
Phnom Penh blamed Abhisit’s government for provoking nationalism and for giving out misleading information over the world heritage for political gain.
The Preah Vihear’s status was ruled on by the International Court of Justice in 1962. It is situated in territory under sovereignty of Cambodia, but nationalists in Thailand and Abhisit’s government claim only the stone temple ruin belongs to Cambodia, not the surrounding areas.
Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen told the Cambodian people there was nothing to worry about over the border issue with Thailand, despite feelings heating up. The military leaders of both sides met and agreed to keep their troops in their stations.
Despite the current calm, Hun Sen said his troops were ready to protect the border from intrusion.
Source: according asianewsnet.net