UNESCO to send experts to evaluate, repair damaged temple: special envoy

15:30, February 28, 2011      

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Koichiro Matsuura, the special envoy of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said Monday Cambodia' s Preah Vihear temple needs to be restored urgently following the damages by the military clashes between Cambodia and Thailand over the border disputed area on Feb. 4-7.

During a meeting with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, Chairman of the Cambodian National Commission for UNESCO, on Monday, Matsuura said that as soon as Indonesian observers arrive at the border disputed area, UNESCO will send its experts to evaluate the damages.

"Urgent restoration on the temple will be conducted after the evaluation of the damages and UNESCO will send repair-experts to restore the temple," Matsuura said, adding that "UNESCO will not involve in the border issue, but the temple."

Meanwhile, Sok An, also the minister of the Council of Ministers, presented Matsuura with internationally recognized maps about Cambodian border with Thailand, and also showed him about the maps used unilaterally by Thailand, not international recognition.

Sok An also informed him about the serious damages of Preah Vihear temple caused by about 414 mortar and artillery shells falling on the temple. "So, Cambodia has to publicize this information to the international communities."

Matsuura, a former director-general of UNESCO (1999-2009) and a former Chair of the World Heritage Committee, was named by Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, on Feb. 11 as the special envoy to mediate the issue of Preah Vihear temple following a deadly clash from Feb. 4-7 between Cambodian and Thai troops over the border disputed area next to the temple. He arrived here on Sunday for a three-day visit.

The clash unleashed a barrage of artillery shells on both sides of the border, killed and wounded some soldiers and people of both sides, as well as caused serious damages to Preah Vihear temple.

Preah Vihear Temple was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2008.

The conflict has occurred just a week after the inscription due to Thai claim of the ownership of 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) of scrub next to the temple, since then periodic clashes have happened between the two nations'troops.

Source: Xinhua

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