Monday, October 27, 2008



Cambodia has lodged a complaint with the United Nations accusing Thai troops of damaging the ancient Preah Vihear temple during a border shootout earlier this month, an official said yesterday. Phay Siphan, spokesman for Cambodia's Council of Ministers, said a staircase and a sculpture at the ruins were damaged by rocket fire.

A complaint was filed with the UN cultural body Unesco a few days after the firefight erupted on Oct 15 near Preah Vihear, a World Heritage Site at the centre of the long-running territorial dispute.

''Preah Vihear temple was intentionally damaged by Thai troops, because we found the remnants of grenades ... near the temple and there were no Cambodian soldiers stationed nearby,'' Phay Siphan said.

''The Preah Vihear authority has sent pictures of the damage to Unesco.''

The Foreign Ministry on Wednesday denied Thai soldiers had damaged the 11th-century Khmer temple.

The Second Army, in charge of the northeastern region, insisted that no heavy weapons or rockets were used that day.

Phnom Penh's complaint to the UN agency comes as the two countries attempt to resolve the border row, which is centred on the disputed area between Kantharalak district in Si Sa Ket province and Cambodia's Preah Vihear province.

Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat met Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen on Friday in Beijing while attending the Asia-Europe Summit.

Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat said the talks were amicable and quoted Hun Sen as saying the fighting on the border should not have occurred.

The Cambodian leader also supported attempts to prevent future clashes through bilateral talks and the need to urgently untangle the overlapping borders by the Joint Boundary Commission and maintain trade and investment ties.

The government will seek parliamentary approval tomorrow for border negotiations with Cambodia, he added.

Tensions between Cambodia and Thailand flared in July when Preah Vihear was awarded UN World Heritage status, rekindling long-simmering tensions over ownership of 4.6 sq km of land surrounding the temple.

Three Cambodian soldiers and one Thai soldier were killed in the clashes on Oct 15.

Preah Vihear, with its elegant carvings and crumbling stone staircases, is the most important example of ancient Khmer architecture outside Cambodia's famed Angkor Wat temple complex.

Although the World Court ruled in 1962 that it belonged to Cambodia, the most accessible entrance is in Kantharalak district

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