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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thai Foreign Minister stresses Thai-Cambodian problem is bilateral issue

BANGKOK, Nov 26 (TNA) – Thailand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Kasit Piromya stressed when meeting with visiting Indonesian Foreign Minister Dr RM Marty M Natalegawa that the diplomatic standoff between Thailand and Cambodia was a bilateral issue and could be settled between the two governments, according to a ministry senior official.

Information Department deputy director general Thani Thongphakdi told reporters after the Thai and Indonesian foreign ministers met that Mr Kasit explained the current situation between Thailand and Cambodia to his Indonesian counterpart.

Mr Kasit added that Thailand and Cambodia are trying to resolve their problem and that both consider the rift is a bilateral issue, not wider, and should be settled by the two governments, according to Mr Thani.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono earlier expressed concerns over the continuing Thai and Cambodian rift and offered to serve as a mediator in the matter.

Mr Thani said Mr Natalegawa had listened to the Thai minister’s explanation and expressed hope that the diplomatic rift can be mended peacefully.

The Indonesian official was in Thailand on an introductory trip after being appointed foreign minister on October 22.

He is a career diplomat with more than 20 years of solid experience in diplomacy and international relations. He served as Indonesia’s ambassador to the United Kingdom and permanent representative to the United Nations in New York before being appointed as foreign minister.

The diplomatic falling out between the Thai and Cambodian governments flared up after the Cambodian government appointed fugitive ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra as its economic adviser. The two kingdoms recalled their respective ambassadors in retaliatory actions.

The Cambodian government also invited Mr Thaksin to Phnom Penh to lecture Cambodian business leaders and economists as his first assignment, at the same time rejecting Thailand's request to extradite the fugitive former premier.

As the diplomatic row continues, Mr Thaksin's interview with Britain’s Timesonline website continued to rankle Thais.

In the article, Mr Thaksin commented about the Thai monarch and his successor, with remarks considered offensive to the monarchy. The ousted premier, however, reportedly defended himself by saying his interview was ‘distorted’ by the reporter.

Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation (DSI) board decided to investigate TimeOnline, an arm of Britain’s Times of London as a special case due to its exclusive interview with Mr Thaksin deemed offensive to the monarch. (TNA)

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