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Ancient Temple Needs Protected: Expert

The listing of Banteay Chhmar temple, in Banteay Meanchey province, would likely bring an end to the destruction of the temple, a leading tourism operator said Thursday.

The temple near the Thai border was constructed during the 12th and 13th centuries, in the reign of Jayavarman VII, like Angkor Thom in the famous temple complex of Angkor Wat.

The temple’s artifacts are tempting to outside collectors, encouraging looting from those who need money, said Moeung Son, president of the Tourism Association of Cambodia.

“There will be no destruction, and it will be well maintained and renovated if we inscribe the temple as a [Unesco] World Heritage,” he said, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

The World Heritage classification of nearby Preah Vihear temple sparked protests in Bangkok and at the temple and led to a massive armed build-up between Thailand and Cambodia, creating a military deadlock that has continued since July 2008.

However, Moeung Son said similar problems would not arise at Banteay Chhmar temple, which clearly belonged to Cambodia, while the need to protect it was urgent.

“Banteay Chhmar temple is almost destroyed,” he said.