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Thai Comments Over Temple ‘Stupid,’ FM Says

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong condemned as “stupid” comments made by a Thai official Friday over a disputed border temple in the north.

Preah Vihear temple, known to the Thais as Khao Phra Viharn, has become controversial in the unmarked border area, claimed by both Thailand and Cambodia.

Thai Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Pichasanu Putchakarn told the Bangkok Post Friday that Cambodia’s recent unilateral request seeking UN World Heritage Site status for the temple could upset relations between the two neighbors.

“Thailand has to think of its national interests. We may protest to the Cambodian government through diplomatic channels and try to explain to other countries that Thailand has tried to cooperate with Cambodia in requesting the World Heritage listing of the sanctuary together,” Pichasanu told the Post.

“That general is stupid, as he does not know anything,” Hor Namhong said Friday, referring to Pichasanu. “Preah Vihear temple belongs to Cambodia. That we want to put it into Unesco’s World Heritage is our right.”

Cambodia had shown a willingness to negotiate with Thailand “several times,” Hor Namhong said. “More Thai experts than the international ones showed up in the negotiation. That is a stupid claim.”

Cambodia and Thailand both have troops stationed at the border near the temple, Pichasanu said.

“If Thailand still objects to Preah Vihear being listed as a World Heritgage Site, that is fine. We’ll still keep going,” said government spokesman Khieu Kanharith. “We have warned Thailand that if it blocks the entry to Preah Vihear from Thailand again, we will block it forever. Then it is Thailand that will totally suffer from the loss.”