Saturday, 11 October 2008

Cambodia says embattled Thai prime minister cancels visit

The Earth Times

Fri, 10 Oct 2008
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - The Cambodian Foreign Ministry announced Friday evening that embattled Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat has cancelled a scheduled visit to the country at short notice. Foreign Ministry spokesman Sin Bunthoeurn said Thailand had given no official reason.

Somchai was expected to arrive in Cambodia on Monday.

Somchai's visit was part of a traditional tour of fellow members of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations made by new leaders, but was expected to focus on an ongoing border dispute between the two neighbours which flared in June and saw gunfire exchanged and soldiers on both sides wounded last weekend.

Thai and Cambodian troops remain at a tense standoff over disputed border territory to the north and north-west of Cambodia, and it has become a highly sensitive political issue for both sides.

Somchai was appointed prime minister on September 25 in a move that further angered the opposition People's Alliance for Democracy, but despite protests and violence in the Thai capital this week, the Thai Foreign Ministry had insisted as late as Thursday afternoon that Somchai's trip was still on.

A bilateral meeting would still go ahead attended by the Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Amornwiwat, Bunthuoeun said.

"The delegation will arrive Monday morning, attend a meeting to discuss the border issue and other bilateral issues as scheduled, and leave the same day," he said.

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