UN envoy meets with Thai, Cambodian leaders over Preah Vihear


New York – A special envoy of the United Nations agency tasked with preserving the world’s cultural heritage has concluded meetings with the leaders of Thailand and Cambodia to discuss the safeguarding of Preah Vihear, a Hindu temple inscribed on the World Heritage List that was damaged during border clashes between the two countries last month.

Koïchiro Matsuura, special envoy for the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), travelled to Bangkok, the Thai capital, and Phnom Penh, the seat of Cambodia’s Government, from Sunday to Tuesday, at the request of Irina Bokova, the UNESCO Director-General.

In Bangkok, Mr. Matsuura met with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya, and National Resources and Environment Minister Siwit Khunkitti. He was also received by Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.

In Phnom Penh, Mr, Matsuura met with Prime Minister Hun Sen and Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, and was also received by King Norodom Sihamoni.

In his discussions with the leaders and officials, Mr. Matsuura stressed the need to create conditions necessary for the safeguarding of the 11th century temple.

Mr. Matsuura, a former UNESCO Director-General and Chair of the World Heritage Committee from 1998 to 1999, expressed the hope that the two countries will engage in dialogue that will lead to the establishment of long-term conservation arrangements.

The temple was inscribed on the World Heritage List for its outstanding universal value, in keeping with the 1972 World Heritage Convention, which has been ratified by both Cambodia and Thailand.