06/19/2006, 00.00
THAILAND - AFGHANISTAN
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Bangkok wants to rebuild Bamiyan Buddhas

Shinawatra made the offer to President Karzai who will discuss it with his government. The controversial Thai premier is running for office in general elections set to take place in a few months.

Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Thailand has offered to rebuild the ancient statues of Buddha destroyed by the Taleban in Afghanistan in 2001. The offer was made by the Thai Premier, Thaksin Shinawatra, to the Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The two political leaders, according to Shinawatra, discussed the reconstruction project of the Bamiyan Buddhas on the sidelines of a conference attended by both in Kazakhstan.

Thaksin said that Thailand, as a Buddhist majority country, would like to collect the remains of the Bamiyan Buddha statues to rebuild new ones. Karzai welcomed the suggestion, but said he would need to bring it up for discussion with his government.

In 2001, fanatical followers of the mullah Omar dynamited giant statues of Buddha in Bamiyan, central Afghanistan. The two works, dating back to between the third and sixth centuries BC, were considered as an insult, because they were built before the onset of Islam. The action drew worldwide scorn and condemnation.

More than 90% of the population in Thailand is Buddhist. The controversial premier cum telecommunications magnate, Thaksin Shinawatra, and his populist party, Thak Rak Thai, are getting ready for general elections slated for October.

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