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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Thaksin announces visits to three Asian countries

PERMISSION: The former Thai leader did not confirm his itinerary, though he will likely visit Cambodia. Thai authorities said they would again seek his extradition

AFP, BANGKOK


Fugitive former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra announced yesterday on his online Twitter page that he would make a week-long trip to visit three Asian countries.

His visit to Cambodia last month, to take up an economic advisory role with the government, caused a diplomatic row after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen refused to extradite Thaksin to Thailand to serve a two-year jail term for graft.

“I have asked permission to visit and exchange views with three leaders in Asia for seven to eight days,” Thaksin said on his Twitter page, giving no further details.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Friday responded to rumors that Thaksin was planning a return to Cambodia and said the government would probably submit another extradition request if he did so.

“If he enters our airspace we will try to arrest him because he is facing a jail term. We are likely to request for his extradition once again,” Abhisit told reporters.

On Friday, Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni pardoned Thai national Siwarak Chothipong, who had been sentenced to seven years in prison for spying on Thaksin during his visit to Phnom Penh.

The 31-year-old employee at the Cambodia Air Traffic Service will be released from prison on Monday, following his conviction on Tuesday for supplying Thaksin’s flight schedule to the Thai embassy.

The pardon drew immediate praise from the Thai government, which also called the case politically motivated.

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