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Cablegate: Preah Vihear Temple: Thais Continue to Support

VZCZCXRO4681
PP RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHBK #1486/01 1360231
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 150231Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3033
INFO RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0885
RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 5246

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 001486

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

PARIS PLEASE PASS TO USMISSION UNESCO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: UNESCO PREL SCUL PBTS TH CB
SUBJECT: PREAH VIHEAR TEMPLE: THAIS CONTINUE TO SUPPORT
INSCRIPTION

REF: A. PHNOM PENH 392
B. BANGKOK 871

BANGKOK 00001486 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary: Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama
intended to discuss the disposition of the Preah Vihear
temple during a May 14 trip to Cambodia. According to a Thai
MFA official, Noppadon hoped to discuss with the RGC in
general terms a possible joint statement on the management of
the temple complex. The Thai MFA aims to finalize the joint
statement text in the coming weeks. The Thai MFA said the
Thai media and politicians were trying to sensationalize the
issue by incorrectly portraying the RTG as prepared to make
concessions relating to Preah Vihear to obtain other benefits
from Cambodia. End Summary.

2. (U) The RTG continued to support the UNESCO World Heritage
Commission's inscription of the Preah Vihear temple; however,
it still held reservations about the resolution of the
disputed area surrounding the complex, a working level
contact at the MFA told us May 14. Thai Foreign Minister
Noppadon Pattama traveled to Cambodia today (May 14) to
attend a ceremony opening new roads in Cambodia that Thailand
had helped to finance. He also planned to use the trip to
have a side meeting with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok
An as a follow up to the May 6 discussions between the RTG
and RGC regarding the Preah Vihear temple issue. With this
in mind, several officials from the Departments of East Asian
and Legal Affairs accompanied Noppadon to Cambodia.

3. (SBU) Noppadon intended to reiterate to Sok An Thailand's
backing of the temple's inscription. He would deliver the
message that the Thais are not interested in overturning the
1962 ICJ decision, which declared that the temple complex
belonged to the Cambodians. Rather, the RTG was keen to
resolve the ongoing dispute of what the Thais identify as
"overlapping territorial claims." (Ref B) Our contact
acknowledged that the Cambodians believed the ICJ decision
resolved any boundary dispute. The RGC and RTG relied on two
different maps to support their distinct claims, however, and
the RTG does not consider all boundary disputes resolved.

4. (SBU) The FM also planned to discuss in general terms the
proposed contents of the RTG's version of a joint statement
on Preah Vihear and encourage the RGC to finalize the joint
statement before the July session of the World Heritage
Committee. This joint statement, our contact explained, was
a document that both countries agreed to redraft during the
May 6 discussions. It would lay out the expectations of each
country for the future and management of the temple complex,
thus forming the basis for continued negotiations. Thailand
understood that the Cambodian position emphasized inscription
and the development of conservation plans for the temple
complex. The Thais supported this position, but wanted to
expand on it to include the issues of boundary demarcation as
well as specific management instructions.

5. (U) Thailand's focus on management issues stemmed from
ongoing practices at the temple complex that are of concern
to the RTG. For example, the Thais claimed that several
hundred Cambodians have lived in the disputed territory since
2001, when the RGC moved them to that area. "We have not
outright objected to their living there (in the disputed
area) as we do not want to make an issue out of it at this
point," stated our contact. At the same time, the Thais
contended that this community did not properly dispose of its
waste water, which was freely flowing in to clearly
demarcated Thai territory. If the Cambodians refused any
consideration of joint RGC-RTG management of the disputed
area, then Thailand would insist that the joint statement
include guarantees that situations such as the
above-mentioned would be addressed according to specific,
agreed upon directives. (Note: On a visit to the temple,
PolOff observed a large number of Cambodians clearly living
in or around the complex, operating market stalls. End note.)

6. (U) The MFA expected to meet the Cambodians again in two
to three weeks to attempt to finalize the joint statements.
To date, the MFA's Legal Affairs Department had prepared a
draft for the FM, but Noppadon had yet to approve it.

7. (U) Recent Thai media coverage of the issue raised the
matter of disputed coastal waters between Thailand and
Cambodia, and linked it with the Preah Vihear temple dispute.
In response, the opposition party in parliament publicly
criticized the RTG for considering the concession of Thai
territory associated with Preah Vihear in exchange for access
to natural gas rights along the coast. However, our MFA

BANGKOK 00001486 002.2 OF 002


contact described the news reports and opposition party's
statement as sensationalistic. Negotiations on both issues
operated in parallel, she clarified, and the MFA Legal
Affairs Department had already cautioned against linking the
two issues for fear it would further complicate the ongoing
negotiations. Thailand's objective was to resolve both
disputes, she stated, and the Preah Vihear temple inscription
could move forward without definitive resolution of the
ongoing border disputes.
JOHN

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