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Thai Temple Protests 'Exploitation': Minister

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said on Friday he regretted the "political exploitation" of protests in Thailand over the application of Preah Vihear temple for Unesco World Heritage protection.

Thousands of demonstrators led by the Thai opposition party, the People's Alliance for Democracy, have taken to the streets of Bangkok in recent weeks over an agreement between Thailand and Cambodia to allow Cambodia to forward the Preah Vihear temple application.

A small number of protesters made their way to the border temple last week, but they have gone now, and the temple was temporarily closed to visitors as a result.

"I deeply regret that some Thai politicians and political parties have taken this question of Preah Vihear to political exploitation without basis," Hor Namhong told reporters Friday. The protesting "causes injury to friendship and cooperation, which are very good between our two countries."

Thai entrance to the temple remains closed, but the temple is open from the Cambodian side, a Preah Vihear provincial official said Friday.

Preah Vihear temple was built in the 10th Century and its Cambodian ownership disputed. A 1962 International Court ruling sided with Cambodia's claims to the temple, but the borderlands surrounding it remain in dispute.