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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Abhisit: Thailand to seek Thaksin's extradition if he stays in Cambodia

BANGKOK, Oct. 22 — Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Thursday said Thailand would seek to extradite ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra from Cambodia if he stays there following the invitation of Prime Minister Hun Sen to host the former Thai leader in his country.

Mr Abhisit commented after former Thai prime minister Chavalit Yongchaiyuth, chairman of the opposition Puea Thai Party, visited Phnom Penh to meet the Cambodian leader who was quoted as saying that Thaksin was a "political victim'' and is welcome in Cambodia any time he wishes to stay.

The Thai premier however said he was not surprised by the remarks, saying Mr Hun Sen has told him several times that he was a friend of Mr Thaksin.

"Mr Hun Sen has repeatedly told me that that he could separate personal relations from duty and international relations," Mr Abhisit said. "I don't think (Mr Hun Sen's recent remarks) would affect bilateral relations as both Thailand and Cambodia must bear in mind their own national interests and good relations as an ultimate aim in their policy implementation."

The Thai premier added that his government would seek the extradition of Mr Thaksin once it is established that he is staying in the neighbouring country.

Ousted in a bloodless coup in September 2006, convicted and sentenced to a two-year jail term for malfeasance in the controversial Bangkok Ratchadapisek land purchase, Mr Thaksin now spends most of his time in the United Arab Emirates after his status as a visitor was rejected by a number of countries including both the United Kingdom and Germany.

Prime Minister Abhisit downplayed the absence of Mr Hun Sen at the opening ceremony of the 15th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit Friday morning, saying nothing is unusual as some country leaders are also unable to attend the ceremony as they are busily engaged with other important missions in their own countries.

The ASEAN summit and its related summits are scheduled to be held in the Thai seaside resorts town of Cha-am and Hua Hin October 23 to 25.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will not be able to arrive in Thailand in time for the opening ceremony of the ASEAN summit, said Vitavas Srivihok, director-general of Thailand's ASEAN Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as Mr Yudhoyono is forming his cabinet, while Mr Najib is scheduled to deliver a statement on the government's budget to the parliament.

ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, while the Plus+3 countries are China, Japan and South Korea, and the ASEAN+6 – are the 13 plus India, Australia and New Zealand. (PNA/TNA)

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