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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Cambodian ex-king returns from China

PHNOM PENH - CAMBODIA'S ailing former king Norodom Sihanouk returned home on Wednesday from Beijing where he spent nine months receiving medical treatment, officials said.

Mr Sihanouk and his wife were given a red-carpet welcome by family members, Prime Minister Hun Sen and other senior government officials upon arrival at Phnom Penh airport.

A smiling Mr Sihanouk, 88, pressed his hands together and kissed them in a traditional greeting to well-wishers before getting into a car that whisked him off to the royal palace.

One of Asia's longest-serving monarchs, the revered king abruptly quit the throne in October 2004 in favour of his son, citing old age and health problems.

Prince Sisowath Chivan Monirak, deputy president of the Cambodian senate, told reporters Mr Sihanouk had kept his promise 'to come back for Khmer New Year' and that the ex-monarch's doctors 'had no problem' with his return to Cambodia.

The new year festivities, which start on April 14 and last for three days, are a popular time for families to get together. -- AFP

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