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Minister Claims Right to Rebuild Preah Vihear Market

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on Thursday dismissed Thailand’s stance against rebuilding of a market near the contested border at Preah Vihear temple.

Thai officials have opposed the rebuilding of Psar Prasat, claiming it violates a border agreement between the two countries made in 2000.

The market of 262 stalls belonging to 319 families was destroyed in fighting between the two sides April 3, and Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered Preah Vihear provincial authorities to rebuild it.

Thailand sent a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs July 30, claiming reconstruction violated a border demarcation agreement.

However, Hor Namhong told reporters outside the Foreign Ministry on Thursday that Cambodia had the right to rebuild the market.

“What Cambodia does does not depend on the satisfaction or non-satisfaction of Thailand,” he said. “What is in the interest of Cambodia and what is in the rights of Cambodia, Cambodiamust do.”

Cambodia demanded $2.1 million in compensation from the Thai government, claiming Thai soldiers had destroyed the market with rocket fire, but has so far received no money.

Preah Vihear Governor Sar Thavy said Thursday the provincial government had so far rebuilt 183 stalls and built a water reservoir and public toilet.

“I reconstructed a new market on our soil,” he said. “It is not affecting anyone, because in the place of the destroyed market, our people have lived and made their businesses since before the 15 July 2008 military event.”