Monday, 15 February 2010

Thai PM says government wants to ease tension with Cambodia

via CAAI News Media

Posted : Sun, 14 Feb 2010
By : dpa
Bangkok - Thailand's prime minister on Sunday said his government is taking diplomatic measures to ensure tension with neighbouring Cambodia does not worsen. Thailand does not want to confront Cambodia and is doing what it can to prevent harm coming to people living on both sides of the border, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said, adding that both countries need to take upmost caution.

Tension has centered on the 11th-century Preah Vihear Temple, which the International Court of Justice awarded the to Cambodia in 1962. But it did not rule on the surrounding land, which both countries claim.

The relationship between the two nations has been tense for more than a year with sporadic clashes between troops near the disputed area surrounding the temple. Much of the border between the two countries has yet to be demarcated.

Over the past 18 months, Thai nationalists have used the Preah Vihear issue to stoke tensions, which last erupted in late January when troops from the two countries fired on each other in the disputed area. Neither country reported casualties.

Then early this month Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen visited Preah Vihear in a politically charged trip.

At the time Abhisit played down Hun Sen's visit, and on Sunday continued to state that diplomacy was the best way to approach the issue.

The relationship between Cambodia and Thailand worsened markedly last October when Cambodia appointed Thailand's fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra to be a government adviser.

Cambodia appointed Thaksin, who has a two-year jail sentence still to serve in Thailand for abuse of power, as an economic adviser to the government and to Hun Sen.

Bangkok considers the appointment of Thaksin, the de facto opposition leader, as interference in its internal politics.

Thaksin was prime minister of Thailand from 2001 to 2006 before being toppled in a bloodless coup. He fled the country and has live in self-imposed exile, mostly in Dubai, since August 2008.

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