Monday, 9 November 2009

LEAD: Thaksin to give economics lecture in Phnom Penh: Hun Sen

(Posted by CAAI news Media)

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Sunday that ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will visit Cambodia to give a lecture on economic matters in Phnom Penh on Thursday.

Hun Sen, who has appointed Thaksin as his economic adviser, told a news conference at Phnom Penh airport that Thaksin will address a group of 300 Cambodians.

The appointment has further strained Cambodia's relations with Thailand, with the two countries locked in a festering territorial dispute.

Hun Sen made a one-hour statement shortly after arriving back from a trip to Tokyo where he attended an international conference on the development of the Mekong River region hosted by Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

He said the current row only concerns him and Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and is not a conflict pitting one nation against another, or the Cambodian military against the Thai military.

Hun Sen said the situation on the border with Thailand is calm and that he has decided to pull out special troops from the area near Preah Vihear temple, the focal point of a military standoff between Cambodia and Thailand since last year.

The prime minister suggested that Thailand should not close the border between the two countries, warning that Cambodia will ban all Thai products from entering Cambodia if the border is closed.

According to figures cited by Hun Sen, Thailand exported $2 billion worth of products to Cambodia in 2008, while Cambodian exports to Thailand totaled $90 million.

Earlier in the day, Abhisit urged Hun Sen to behave like a "good neighbor" and reconsider his appointment of Thaksin as his economic adviser.

Abhisit, speaking on a weekly television program, vented his frustration over Hun Sen's decision and said Bangkok cannot tolerate the criticism that Hun Sen has leveled against the Thai judicial system in making Thaksin his economic adviser.

Hun Sen insisted Sunday that Thaksin is only one of his foreign advisers, who he said include people from Australia, Belgium, France, Japan, South Korea, and the United States.

Hun Sen said his offer of residence in Cambodia to Thaksin is only of a temporary nature and he will come when required by Cambodia.

Thaksin was convicted in a corruption case in Thailand and has fled the country.

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