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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thai PM: Diplomat standoff could end if Cambodia reviews its role

BANGKOK, Urging patriotic Thais to unite amid growing tensions with neighbouring Cambodia, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Sunday that the ongoing problem between the two countries could end if the Cambodian government strictly follows international practice.

Mr. Abhisit, now attending the three-day 17th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in Singapore ending later Sunday, said in his weekly address aired on television and radio that relations between the two countries were good until Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen appointed fugitive, ousted former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as economic advisor to the Cambodian administration earlier this month.

Diplomatic ties between Cambodia and Thailand worsened after both countries recalled their ambassadors, expelled one another’s first secretaries and the Cambodian government arrested a Thai man it accused of spying on Mr Thaksin’s flight schedule, but Thailand has said that the accusation was groundless against the Thai citizen. The Thai government cancelled a memorandum of understanding with Cambodia on maritime agreement which included shared access to undersea mineral resources.

Mr. Abhisit said his government had a clear understanding that the diplomatic discord should not affect the livelihood and trade conducted between peoples of the two countries on the border and that the problem would have to be resolved by the two governments.

The Thai prime minister, currently chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), reaffirmed that the dispute would not affect cooperation among members of ASEAN and between the bloc and its dialogue partners.

“What we (Thailand) are doing follows norms and international practices and we want to urge Cambodia to do the same,” Mr. Abhisit emphasised.

“If the Cambodian government reviews its stance and does everything as it was before the ASEAN summit last month,” said the Thai premier, “I believe that with our cooperation and neighbourliness will run smoothly.”

The Thai premier also expressed regret that some groups of Thais ignited the problems.

“Now the most important thing is the solidarity of the Thai people, being patient (with others) and showing our sincerity that we want to be good neighbours by respecting rules,” said Mr Abhisit. (TNA) .

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