Thai foreign minister resigns over Hindu temple row

July 10th, 2008 - 4:33 pm ICT by IANS  

DPA
Bangkok, July 10 (DPA) Thai Foreign Minister Noppodon Pattama announced his resignation Thursday after being accused of violating the constitution for signing a communique last month with Cambodia to back the listing of an ancient Hindu temple as a World Heritage Site. “To show responsibility and spirit I resign,” Noppodon told a press conference.

Noppodon announced his resignation, effective next Monday, after returning from Quebec where he had unsuccessfully lobbied the World Heritage Committee to postpone listing the Preah Vihear temple that straddles the Thai-Cambodian border.

The World Heritage Committee Monday approved the listing of Preah Vihear, a centuries-old Hindu temple, among UNESCO’s sites.

Cambodia’s proposal to list the temple was first backed by the Thai government and then opposed after the issue became highly politicized.

“I am disappointed that some people have turned this into a political issue,” Noppodon said. “There was no loss of territory or sovereignty. I did not sell out the country.”

Preah Vihear has long been a sore point in Thai-Cambodian relations.

In 1962 Thailand lost the temple complex to Cambodia in an ownership case that was taken to the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

Thailand blocked Cambodia’s efforts to list the temple at UNESCO in 2006 and 2007 of the grounds that the proposed site would more than four 4.6 kilometres of territory that is still subject to a border dispute between the two countries.
DPA

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