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Official Explains Temple Negotiations

Recent border talks between Cambodia and Thailand failed in part because Thai negotiators insisted on using a different name for Preah Vihear temple, an obstacle meant to delay the process, a researcher claimed Thursday.

“The government clearly understands that we can’t change the name, as by law and documents from the past we use only Preah Vihear, even on the Unesco [World Heritage] list,” said the researcher, Ros Chantraboth, vice chairman of the Royal Academy of Cambodia.

In negotiations earlier this month, the Thai side of a joint border committee wanted to call the Cambodian World Heritage site “the Temple of Phra Viharn-Preah Vihear,” a move that hampered talks, the Bangkok Post reported.

“We do not want that to become an excuse in the future,” Ros Chantraboth said, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

Cambodia and Thailand remain at odds over a small strip of land near Preah Vihear temple, with troops have been amassed on both sides of the border since July. Several rounds of bilateral talks have failed to resolve the conflict, which has led to the deaths of at least three Cambodian and one Thai soldier.

The government has not brought the question to the International Court at the Hague because that court has jurisdiction only over an earlier ruling on the temple itself, not the land nearby, Ros Chantraboth said.

Meanwhile, domestic political unrest in Thailand has made further negotiation hard, because the Cambodians don’t know with whom to negotiate, the new government, the opposition, or the military, he said.

Patience was important, he said, in order to maintain peace and stability in the region.