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Temple, Border Issues Conflated: Official

Bangkok has sought to confuse public opinion over Preah Vihear temple and a contested border, conflating the two issues in the media as a yearlong military standoff drags on, a government official said Monday.

An international court declared in 1962 that Preah Vihear temple, an 11th-Century structure that sits on a towering escarpment over the plains of Preah Vihear province, belonged to Cambodia.

However, Cambodian and Thailand contest nearby border areas, using maps from different periods to delineate their frontiers.

“Do not combine the two issues together, otherwise you fall into a strategy that our Thai friends are making,” Phay Siphan, a spokesman for the Council of Ministers said Monday, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

His remarks come as Thai officials have sought to have Preah Vihear temple, which was granted World Heritage status last year, jointly managed by the two countries.

Unesco has rejected the proposal, but remarks by senior Thai officials have inflamed longstanding nationalistic animosity among some Thais.

Thailand was seeking to confuse international perception of the issue, Phay Siphan said.

There are currently hundreds of Thai and Cambodian troops heavily armed and entrenched along the border. Clashes since the standoff began, in July 2008, have led to the deaths of at least seven soldiers from both sides.