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Cablegate: Cambodia Seeks Support for Preah Vihear International

VZCZCXRO7371
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHPF #0089/01 0360942
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 050942Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1648
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0735

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PHNOM PENH 000089

SIPDIS

DEPT FRO EAP/MLS, IO
PARIS PLEASE PASS TO US MISSION TO UNESCO - AMBASSADOR KILLION

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KTIA SCUL UNESCO DB
SUBJECT: CAMBODIA SEEKS SUPPORT FOR PREAH VIHEAR INTERNATIONAL
COORDINATING COMMITTEE, AGREES TO INVITE THAILAND

1. ACTION REQUEST IN PARA 9.

2. SUMMARY: During a meeting designed to brief Ambassadors from
seven nations on the status of the World Heritage site of Preah
Vihear, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An welcomed their participation in
an International Coordinating Committee (ICC) to help guide the
planning for the restoration and management of the site. The DPM
noted that Thailand would also be invited, as required by UNESCO in
the World Heritage inscription documents. He expects the
discussions to be "peaceful and friendly" and said that Cambodia is
"seeking cooperation." END SUMMARY

3. In a meeting that included Ambassadors and representatives from
the United States, India, Australia, France, China, Belgium, Japan,
and UNESCO, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An proposed to convene an ICC
for the recently inscribed World Heritage site of Preah Vihear, and
advised that all countries present plus Thailand would be invited to
participate. The Belgian Ambassador (resident in Bangkok) welcomed
the proposal and stated his desire to see the ICC convened before
the next World Heritage Committee meeting scheduled for July of this
year in Brasilia. The UNESCO representative advised that the UNESCO
SYG is informed on this issue and hoped to attend the first session
of the Preah Vihear ICC.

4. The invitation to participate in an ICC came after an extensive
briefing by Cambodian and UNESCO representatives on developments at
the site since the UNESCO listing by Chuch Poeurn, head of the newly
established Preah Vihear authority and dean of the faculty of
archeology at the Royal University of Fine Arts and Philippe
deLonghe, an archeologist working for UNESCO. DeLonghe's briefing
emphasized uniqueness of Preah Vihear as a site that was largely
"untouched" at the time of its listing, and touched on the fact that
work done since 2006 at the site had "completely changed" the
experts' understanding of the site. A professional site management
plan has been developed and submitted to UNESCO, fulfilling a
requirement of the World Heritage listing. The site management plan
was written by Divay Gupta, an Indian specialist in architectural
conservation and heritage management; the team that developed it
included archeologists, engineers and architects from France,
Belgium, and Cambodia, as well as a former US Park Service senior
park planner.

5. The establishment of an ICC was the second UNESCO requirement
after the inscription of the site in July of 2008. The original
text of the document required that the ICC be convened by February
of 2010 and that the committee include no more than seven countries.
UNESCO also specified that Thailand should be invited to
participate. The formation of the ICC has been delayed due to the
ongoing border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia on the area
surrounding the Preah Vihear temple. Another ICC which focuses on
the management of the Angkor Wat temple complex has been highly
successful and Cambodia and UNESCO seek to model the Preah Vihear
version on the Angkor Wat example.

6. After the briefing and informal invitation to join the ICC,
several Ambassadors inquired about security at the site. DPM Sok An
assured the group that any recent violence in the border area has
been in isolated areas far from the site of the temple and that
increasing numbers of tourists are already visiting the site from
the Cambodian side. He advised that he would issue a formal
invitation to form the ICC as soon as possible.

7. DPM Sok An stated that he had approached the seven countries
present at the meeting as they had contributed experts to the team
which made formal recommendations on the site or had long histories
of collaboration with Cambodia through the Angkor Wat ICC. It is
expected that they would provide similar support for a Preah Vihear
ICC.

8. COMMENT: In several previous discussions about the Preah Vihear
ICC with the Ambassdor, DPM Sok An had resisted the idea of inviting
Thailand to participate, citing the 2008 "incursion" of Thai troops
along the disputed border and pointing to "uncooperative" behavior
on the part of the Thai during their participation in the Angkor Wat
ICC. However, during this briefing he reiterated many times the
government's decision to invite Thailand. Several Ambassadors
probed on this point and he appeared resolute. There was
considerable enthusiasm on the part of the attendees for
participation, although all indicated a need to seek formal
instructions once the actual invitations had been issued. END
COMMENT.


9. ACTION REQUEST: Although a formal request has not yet been
prepared, DPM Sok An would like an indication of US willingness to
participate in the Preah Vihear ICC. When DPM Sok An has raised
this in previous discussions, Ambassador has always responded that
the US would probably look favorably on a request to join the Preah

PHNOM PENH 00000089 002 OF 002


Vihear ICC as long as Thailand was also invited to join. Post
requests guidance on responding to Cambodia's request for our
participation in the ICC.

RODLEY

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