Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Bangkok lodges demands for restoration of diplomatic ties

Hun Sen and Thaksin hug after a meeting at Hun Sen’s home on Monday. AFP

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 16 December 2009 15:03 James O'toole and Cheang Sokha

THE Thai government laid out conditions on Tuesday that it says Cambodia must meet in order for diplomatic ties to be restored, as fugitive former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra met with Cambodian officials in his capacity as government economics adviser.

Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanyagorn said Tuesday that if Cambodia wants to bring an end to the conflict between the two countries, it must dismiss Thaksin as a government adviser, recant statements that Thai officials say insulted their justice system and stop interfering in Thai politics.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong called the conditions offered by Thailand “nonsense”.

“We don’t have to apologise or to correct anything, so these three conditions are absolutely unacceptable,” he said, adding that Thailand “should not interfere into Cambodia’s internal affairs”.

But despite these harsh words, Koy Kuong said Cambodia stands ready to restore diplomatic ties if Thailand is willing.

“If Thailand decides to bring its ambassador back to Cambodia, at most 15 minutes after that, the Cambodian government will announce the return of its ambassador back to Thailand,” he said.

Thailand withdrew its ambassador to Cambodia last month in protest of the Kingdom’s appointment of Thaksin, and Cambodia immediately responded in kind.

During a visit last month by Thaksin, who is wanted in Thailand after fleeing last year to avoid a jail term for corruption, Thailand issued an extradition request for him that Cambodia promptly rejected.

Cambodia called the case against the onetime telecommunications mogul “politically motivated”, to the indignation of the Thaksin rivals who compose the current Thai administration.

In Phnom Penh on Tuesday, Thaksin spoke with Cambodian officials about agricultural development, promising to build two farms in the Kingdom to demonstrate modern agronomy techniques.

Following the meeting, the Supreme National Economic Council issued a statement summarising the meeting and emphasising agriculture’s importance to the overall economy.

Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said Thaksin is scheduled to deliver a lecture on tourism this afternoon.


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