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Cambodia aims to develop area around Preah Vihear: Democrats

Democrat spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said yesterday that Cambodia is planning to propose that the area around Preah Vihear Temple be developed, at the next meeting of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) in June, and hence the government should launch a clear opposition campaign.

He urged the government to apply the January 13, 2010 resolution of the Abhisit Vejjajiva Cabinet, which objected to Cambodia's move to unilaterally have the temple registered for World Heritage status. The resolution also approved a Bt10-million budget for lobbying to stall Cambodia's listing attempt because this move would create tensions between the countries, he said. Hence, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's government should follow this resolution and express its standpoint at the WHC meeting, he said.

Chavanond explained that allowing Cambodia to develop the area around the temple could affect Thailand's sovereignty and the work of the Thai team at the International Court of Justice would be wasted.

The spokesman also dismissed Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul's earlier comment that the resolution of the WHC meeting in June would not have any effect on the dispute being handled by the ICJ. He said these two matters could not be separated because if Cambodia was able to manage this area, it would be included in the French-made 1:200,000-scale map, which would not be good for Thailand.

He also urged Yingluck to listen to the opposition's advice and order that the Natural Resource and Environment Ministry, which is handling the WHC issue, object to Cambodia's request that the temple be granted World Heritage status, because this was the root cause of the dispute.

On Tuesday, Surapong presented the map approved by the 1962 Cabinet delineating Preah Vihear's "vicinity" to the current Cabinet for acknowledgement. The Thai legal team will send this map and its coordinates as well as an explanation to the ICJ tomorrow. Cambodia will then send its reaction and the Thai team will send its response to the ICJ on May 3.


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