The Nation

Thailand leaves World Heritage Convention

Thailand has withdrawn from the World Heritage Convention to protest against the World Heritage Committee's decision to consider Cambodia's management plan of Preah Vihear Temple.

Suwit Khunkitti, head of the Thai delegation negotiating with the World Heritage Committee in Paris, announced at 11:55 pm Saturday, that his delegation had informed the World Heritage Committee that Thailand resigned as a member country to the convention.Suwit, the natural resources and environment minister, said the Thai delegation had to make the move after the committee ignored Thailand's concern that the consideration of the management plan would complicate Thai-Cambodian border dispute."They ignored it and they did not care about our sovereignty and territory," Suwit said."They cared only about the conservation of the temple. Actually, we told them that if Cambodia withdraws its troops from the temple, the conservation can go ahead. The troop withdrawal will allow the conservation to be done. No one will interfere with it. No damages will be done if no one fires from the site."Suwit said the Thai delegation had tried to no avail to explain the need to defer the meeting on the management plan to a later date."So, I think that we should not take a risk. If we take a risk, the vote of the committee may affect us and affect our sovereignty. I talked to the delegation and we agreed to withdraw as a member of the World Heritage convention," Suwit said.Following the withdrawal, the World Heritage Committee could no longer force Thailand to compile to its decision, Suwit added.He said he believed the committee would not consider the management plan after Thailand's withdrawal but if it still goes ahead with the consideration, its decision would have no effect on Bangkok.Cambodia wants to press ahead with the World Heritage Committee's meeting on the management of 4.6-square-km space around the ancient Hindu temple.The World Court ruled in 1962 that the temple situated on the Thai-Cambodian border, belongs to Cambodia, but stopped short of making a ruling on the ownership of land surrounding the ancient temple.

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