PHNOM PENH —
Indian officials say they have halted the construction of a $20 million project to build a replica of the famed temple of Angkor Wat, to maintain good bilateral relations between the two countries.
Mahavir Mandir Trust, an engineering firm in India, had announced the construction of the 10-year project in 2012, but it has been ordered to suspend its operations, officials said.
The move comes after Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs requested the Indian government find a way to stop the project, which could have angered many Cambodians, who see Angkor Wat as a powerful national symbol.
Foreign Minister Hor Namhong met with Indian Ambassador Naveen Srivastara on Tuesday, after which officials announced a halt to the project.
The Indian government has suggested that the company “revise its structure, to avoid copying the Cambodian Angkor Wat temple,” said Chum Sounry, a spokesman for the ministry.
India’s ambassador “acknowledged that the Angkor Wat temple is the Khmer’s soul and priceless heritage, representing the Cambodian nation, and they promised they would not do any thing that would affect the soul and impact the good relations of both countries,” he said.
Cambodian historian Ros Chantrabot applauded India for its decision, which he said would maintain positive relations between the countries. Had the structure been built, it would have “degraded” the reputation of the company involved and of “Indian culture and civilization.”
At Tuesday’s meeting, meanwhile, the Indian government pledged $4 million to help renovate Preah Vihear temple, which sits on a high escarpment near the Thai border.