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Unesco Envoy Prepares To Assess Temple Damage

  • VOA Khmer

Koichiro Matsuura, a Unesco special envoy for the temple, will travel to Bangkok and Phnom Penh between Feb. 25 and March 1, Unesco said in a statement.

Koichiro Matsuura, a Unesco special envoy for the temple, will travel to Bangkok and Phnom Penh between Feb. 25 and March 1, Unesco said in a statement.

A Unesco representative will meet with both Cambodian and Thai officials in coming days on a fact-finding mission over damage to Preah Vihear temple in recent clashes, officials said.

Koichiro Matsuura, a Unesco special envoy for the temple, will travel to Bangkok and Phnom Penh between Feb. 25 and March 1, Unesco said in a statement.

Cambodia officially requested that Unesco inspect Preah Vihear temple, which was damaged in deadly clashes along the Thai-Cambodian border earlier this month. However, Thailand has insisted the area remains too dangerous for an onsite visit.

Unesco officials declined to disclose further details of the visit, and Cambodian officials say that if the envoy makes a trip to the temple, it will not be disclosed to the public.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said the envoy’s trip to Cambodia will be a technical evaluation of damage to the temple.

“This assessment is not meant as a prosecution of anyone,” he said. “It’s just to see how much damage there is and what kind of effective measures can prevent further, bigger incidents.”

The 11th-Century temple was put on a Unesco list of World Heritage sites in 2008, sparking protests by some groups in Bangkok and leading to a military build-up on the border that culminated in heavy clashes Feb. 4 through Feb. 7.

Unesco said in a statement that Matsuura will discuss safeguarding the temple with the prime ministers of both countries and “examine with both sides ways of reducing tension and promoting dialogue around the preservation of the temple.”

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva acknowledged the trip earlier this week, saying it will be to listen to the accounts of both sides.

Cambodian officials say the temple was damaged by Thai artillery, though Thai officials say any damage was incidental as soldiers returned fire on Cambodian positions.

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