Monday, January 12, 2009
PM Abhisit: Cambodia won't raise temple dispute at ASEAN summit
ASEAN members think of group spirit first, Mr. Abhisit said, adding that there was nothing given in exchange for confirming Premier Hun Sen's presence at the ASEAN summit to be held in Thailand's Hua Hin resort February 27-March 1.
Disputes are bound to occur when countries share a border, Mr, Abhisit said, but bilateral problems which could spoil ASEAN's mutual work will not be brought up.
"This principle has already been agreed and is implemented under the framework of the year 2000 memorandum of understanding," he said, adding that he would seek Cabinet approval so that the mechanism could continue functioning.
Responding to reports that Cambodian workers are now building a road leading to Preah Vihear temple, Mr. Abhisit said he had received the information and the issue needed to be discussed because the agreement clearly indicated that both countries must not change the environment in ways which could affect the border delineation.
Thailand had in the past protested to Cambodia several times and a new protest will have to be submitted in this case, Mr. Abhisit said.
Tensions between the two neighbours flared last July when the ancient Preah Vihear was awarded UN World Heritage status. The foreign ministers of the two countries also agreed in the same month to find a peaceful end to the diplomatic and military spat, centring on 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq. km.) of scrub near the temple.
Although the World Court ruled in 1962 that the historic Hindu temple belonged to Cambodia, the most accessible entrance is in Thailand's northeastern province of Si Sa Ket.