Thailand and Cambodia have resolved a border dispute over the Hindu-style Preah Vihear temple, paving the way for the ancient site to become a UN World Heritage Site candidate, media reports said Sunday. In a meeting brokered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in Paris Thursday, Cambodia agreed to a Thai proposal that only the temple compound, and not territory surrounding it, would be included in the World Heritage Site proposal, Thai Foreign minister Noppodon Pattama told the Bangkok Post.
Thailand had previously blocked Cambodia’s bid to get the temple listed as a world heritage site on the grounds that the proposal included land around the temple compound that was still subject to a border dispute between the two countries.
Preah Vihear, or Phra Viharn as it is called in Thai, has been a contentious issue between the two neighbouring countries for decades.
A dispute over ownership of the ancient temple, which straddles the Thai-Cambodian border, was taken to the International Court of Justice, which ruled on June 15, 1962, that the site belonged to Cambodia.
Although the temple, perched on a cliff overlooking Cambodia, is now under the management of the Cambodian government, the easiest access to the site for tourists is via Thailand.
Cambodia must now draw up a new map for its Preah Vihear World Heritage Site proposal and send it to UNESCO by June 6. The new sites will be announced by UNESCO in July.