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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thai FM: no plan of talks with Cambodia to end diplomatic dispute

[The Nation report: "Mother meets detained son in P Penh jail"]

Takes soil from house as symbolic link to his motherland

Detained Thai employee Siwarak Chotipong met his mother for the first time yesterday since being arrested on a charge of spying.

Siwarak has been accused of passing on fugitive former prime minister Shinawatra's flight information to an official of the Thai Embassy two weeks ago.

Simarak Ra Khon Phanom flew to see her son in Prey Sor prison on the outskirts of Phnom Penh for an hour and a half yesterday afternoon. She took along soil from her house in Nakhon Ratchasima for her son as a symbolic connection with the motherland.

Siwarak has lost some weight but is still in good health and Cambodian authorities are taking good care of her son, she told reporters in Phnom Penh after a visit.

"He wants to get out of jail as soon as possible and is waiting for the court ruling on December 8," she said.

He is not a political victim, but there might have been some misunderstanding and bad luck for him, she said.

Siwarak was arrested on November 12 on the day Thaksin was in Phnom Penh to give a lecture on economic development after being appointed an economic adviser to Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Siwarak, an employee of Cambodia Air Traffic Services (CATS), was accused of passing Thaksin's flight information to Thai diplomat Kamrob Palawatwichai, who was later expelled from Cambodia.

If found guilty, he would be sentenced to a 7-15-year jail term or fined 5-25 million Cambodian rials (about Bt50,000-Bt250,000) in accordance with article 19 of the Archive law.

Visiting Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh said his country would handle the Siwarak case in accordance with law and international practice.

Tea Banh was in Thailand for a meeting of General Border Committee with his Thai counterpart Prawit Wongsuwan. They agreed to maintain good ties despite the conflict between the two governments.

Siwarak's case is seen as an extension of the diplomatic row between Thailand and Cambodia. Angered by the appointment of Thaksin as Hun Sen's adviser, Thailand downgraded relations with Cambodia and reviewed cooperation projects including a maritime deal.

Meanwhile Cambodia informed Thailand yesterday it was cancelling an agreement to receive a Bt1.4-billion loan to upgrade a highway from the Thai border, Associated Press reported.

Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said his country will not accept the loan because it could afford to build the road on its own.

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