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Saturday, November 14, 2009

PM Abhisit: Thai-Cambodian diplomatic standoff must be resolved by both parties

SINGAPORE, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Saturday that the ongoing diplomatic spat between Thailand and its neighbour Cambodia will not affect cooperation among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), emphasising that the problem must be solved by the two countries.

Mr Abhisit, now at the three-day 17th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in Singapore, told journalists that ASEAN secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan advised that Thailand and Cambodian should resolve their tensions before ASEAN leaders meet US President Barack Obama on Sunday. He affirmed that Thailand, currently chairman and a member of ASEAN, will not raised the issue at the meeting.

Thailand and Cambodia, along with Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam, are ASEAN members.

Mr Abhisit said he would confer with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on the sidelines of US-ASEAN summit Sunday.

Diplomatic ties between the Cambodia and Thailand have worsened after their ambassadors were recalled, first secretaries expelled and the Cambodian government arrested a Thai man allegedly spying on fugitive, ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, but Thailand has said that the accusation was groundless against the Thai citizen.

Cambodia Deputy National Police Chief Lt-Gen Sok Phal was quoted by the Associated Press as saying 31-year-old Siwarak Chothipong gave Mr Thaksin’s flight schedule to the first secretary at the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh.

Mr Abhisit said Thai government officials would try to meet detained Mr. Siwarak and ask him what charges have been leveled.

The Thai prime minister said he would be surprised if the Cambodian government refuses Thai officials an opportunity to meet Mr Siwarak, an engineer at Cambodia Air Traffic Services (CATS).

He added that the flight information was not considered as secret. (TNA)

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