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Govt, Unesco to meet on Plain of Jars World Heritage Site proposal

Government officials are scheduled to hold talks with Unesco to discuss Laos' proposal to request the UN agency to consider listing the Plain of Jars in Xieng Khuang province as Laos' third World Heritage Site.

One of the mysterious stone vessels that dot the Plain of Jars.

Australia will sponsor the meeting, which is set to take place in June, Deputy Director General of the Heritage Department under the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism , Mr Viengkeo Souksavatdy, told the Vientiane Times last week.

“We will invite representatives from Unesco to attend the meeting along with officials in charge of the Lao side,” he said.

“We will prioritise the items that we need to work through in the next steps to prepare for the submission of the proposal.”

Mr Viengkeo was unable to give a precise timeframe as to when the proposal would be submitted.

It is expected that the June meeting will discuss the area of the Plain of Jars that would be earmarked as a World Heritage Site, to ensure it coincides with the province's socio-economic development plan.

Mr Viengkeo said several parties had expressed their intention to support Laos in listing the Plain of Jars as Laos' third World Heritage Site, including Australia and France.

The Plain of Jars is a megalithic archaeological landscape thought to date back 2,500 to 3,000 years.

It contains more than 2,000 stone jars, the biggest of which is more than three metres in height and has a circumference of eight metres.

Scattered throughout the Xieng Khuang plateau, these stone jars appear in clusters, ranging from a single or a few to several hundred jars in the lower foothills surrounding the central plain and upland valleys.

Mr Viengkeo said it was important to ensure that the province's socio-economic development plan and listing of the Plain of Jars as a World Heritage Site would not conflict in any way.

In its report issued last year, the Global Heritage Fund named the Plai n of Jars as one of the top 10 endangered sites in Asia. These were described as having the potential for “irreparable loss and destruction” in the face of economic expansion, large visitor numbers, po or technical resources, and looting.

Mr Viengkeo admitted that development in Xieng Khuang province could pose a threat to the Plain of Jars if the province's socio-economic development plan is not undertaken carefully and properly.

By Souksakhone Vaenkeo
(Latest Update April 03, 2013)

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