Tuesday, June 12, 2007

UN to determine status of Preah Vihear

UN to determine status for Cambodia's centuries-old monument

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) - A U.N. committee is expected to rule on Cambodia's request for «World Heritage» status for a well-known 11th century temple during a meeting later this month, an official said Tuesday.

Cambodia began seeking the status five years ago for Preah Vihear temple from World Heritage, a committee of the U.N. cultural organization UNESCO.

Such status encourages conservation and usually helps attract funds for preservation, in addition to raising the tourism profile of the site.

The committee will decide on the Cambodian bid during its meeting in New Zealand that is scheduled to start June 23, said UNESCO director in Cambodia Teruo Jinnai.«It's now up to the committee. You have to wait,» he said.

The temple deserves to be given World Heritage status, he said, because of its unique historical and cultural value.

Preah Vihear temple is located on the top of a cliff in the Dangrek Mountains, about 245 kilometers (150 miles) north of the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. It is more easily accessible from Thailand, however.

The two countries have been at loggerheads in the past over ownership of the temple, which was held by Thailand until the International Court of Justice awarded it to Cambodia in 1962.

The World Heritage list currently includes Cambodia's Angkor archaeological site, where the famed Angkor Wat temple, the country's main tourist attraction, is situated.

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