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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Thailand says Thaksin job may harm Cambodia relations

BANGKOK, Nov 5 (AFP) - Thailand said Thursday that Cambodia's appointment of fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra as economic adviser may cause relations between the two countries to further deteriorate.

The Cambodian government announced the move on state television late Wednesday, two weeks after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen first riled Bangkok by offering the job to the billionaire Thaksin.

Twice-elected Thaksin was ousted in a military coup in 2006 and is living abroad to avoid a jail term for corruption. The Thai government, now led by his opponents, wants to bring him home to face justice.

"It will hardly help. It is more likely to make things worse," Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban told reporters Thursday when asked if Thaksin's appointment would improve relations.

Suthep said Thailand would also press for Thaksin's extradition if he ever goes to live in Cambodia, saying that a treaty between the two nations would cover the former premier's case.

"If they refuse to hand him over then we consider that a breach of an international agreement," he said.

Thaksin, who is believed to spend much of his time in Dubai, said in a Twitter posting that he thanked Hun Sen for the appointment but still wanted to work for Thailand's well-being.

"I thank His Excellency Hun Sen and I just received a copy which was signed by King Sihamoni. It's an honour. But it's not going to be fun like working to help Thai people out of poverty," Thaksin said.

Thaksin remains a hugely influential figure in Thailand, where he has stirred up mass protests against the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva in the past year.

His own allies were driven from government in December 2008 after anti-Thaksin protesters occupied Bangkok's airports.

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