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Bid to delay Unesco decision
AuthorDefaultA…    文章CopyFromthe nation|http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2008/06/30/national/national_30076848.php    Hits873    UpdateTime2008-6-30    
TEMPLE OF GLOOM

Bid to delay Unesco decision

Thai World Heritage panel chief expects positive response to plea



Thailand will ask Unesco to delay a decision on Cambodia's proposal to list Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site, said Pongpol Adireksarn, head of Thailand's World Heritage Committee.

His statement followed the Central Administrative Court injunction on Saturday against the Thai government supporting Cambodia's bid.

The court said the position taken by the government "might undermine Thailand's future standing on the territorial dispute". The government communique gave Cambodia's bid "active support", the ruling said.

The Unesco World Heritage Committee is meeting from Wednesday till July 10 in Quebec, Canada.

Pongpol cited Unesco's Article 11, Item 3, which states that listing of World Heritage sites that straddle two countries' territories cannot be done without endorsement from both sides.

He expected the committee would respond positively to the appeal.

Pongpol said the proposal to Unesco to list Preah Vihear should be submitted jointly by both countries, which is similar to the position Thailand took on the issue last year. He said he would seek Cambodia's cooperation at the Quebec meeting.

"This temple should unite instead of divide us. This is why we are suggesting a joint application," Pongpol said.

Pongpol said the temple should be a major tourist attraction for both countries. "If there is conflict, no tourists will come to visit because they fear danger," he added. "We can both take care of the temples and of the tourists."

Separately, Foreign Ministry permanent secretary Veerasak Futrakul dismissed growing fears that the court injunction would send Thai-Cambodian ties into a tailspin.

Speaking to reporters after meeting Cambodian Ambassador to Thailand Ung Sean, he said bilateral ties had not been affected by the court's order and Phnom Penh considered the ruling, as well the raising of the issue during last week's no-confidence debate in Parliament, as Thailand's domestic matter.

Embattled Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama remained tight-lipped over the ministry's next move, saying more time was needed to assess the situation in light of the injunction.

The director-general of the ministry's Legal Affairs Department, Krit Kraijitti, did not rule out appealing the injection.

Suwat Apaipak, a member of the legal team that succeeded in getting the court to overturn a June 17 Cabinet decision, urged Noppadon to inform Cambodia and the UN cultural body that Thailand could no longer support the listing bid.

The injunction has proved to be a major political embarrassment for the government. A clearer response should be revealed on Tuesday following the weekly Cabinet meeting, where the issue is expected to be high on the agenda.

Despite the government's insistence that the joint communique calling for the listing of Preah Vihear had no bearing on territorial claims by the two countries, Pongpol said the next move would have to come from the Cabinet.

His predecessor on the committee, Adul Wichiancharoen, said the earlier call for Thailand and Cambodia to jointly apply for the Unesco status was a way to depoliticise the thorny issues of territorial dispute and sovereignty.

Pipob Thongchai, a member of the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy, said Noppadon should show responsibility by resigning from his Cabinet post.

 

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