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Friday, September 09, 2011

PM, Thaksin in Cambodia next week

Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra will arrive in Phnom Penh next week to talk to the Cambodian government - a day after his sister, Yingluck, is due to arrive on an official visit.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra greets Cambodian ambassador to Thailand You Ay at Government House yesterday. You Ay was part of an Asean ambassadorial group that met Ms Yingluck for talks. CHANAT KATANYU

Ms Yingluck is expected on a one-day visit on Thursday, as she makes the rounds of neighbouring Association of Southeast Asian countries in her first foray overseas since becoming prime minister.

Thaksin is due in Cambodia a day later, for talks on Thai-Cambodian disputes regarding Preah Vihear temple and the disputed maritime area in the Gulf of Thailand. Unless one or the other changes his schedule, they are unlikely to meet.

Thaksin planned to visit Cambodia from Friday until the following Monday, said a Pheu Thai source. His legal adviser Noppadon Pattama will meet him in Phnom Penh. The two will talk to Cambodian officers about the Preah Vihear temple and the disputed maritime area.

They could also ask Cambodian authorities about helping two Thais - Veera Somkwamkid, a coordinator of the Thai Patriots Network, and Ratree Pipatanapaiboon, Veera's secretary - who have been jailed in Cambodia on a charge of spying and illegal entry since last December. The source said Thaksin and his legal adviser might try to convince the Cambodian government to agree on an inmates exchange.

Then, Veera and Ratree, who have been sentenced to eight years and six years in jail respectively, could be released from their prison in Cambodia while the Thai government would release Cambodian prisoners that have been jailed in Thailand on espionage charges.

It is unknown whether Thaksin intends to stay on until Sept 24 when Pheu Thai MPs will play football with representatives from the Cambodian government in a friendship match in Phnom Penh.

Pheu Thai list MP Natthawut Saikua said Pheu Thai MPs who will play football with the Cambodian government's team will not hold any talks with the Cambodian government because they are not representatives of the Thai government.

However, he will ask for suggestions from Cambodian officers on ways to help Veera and Ratree out of prison, said Mr Natthawut.

Cambodian ambassador to Thailand You Ay yesterday met Ms Yingluck at Government House.

He joined ambassadors of Asean member countries and chiefs of international organisations paying a courtesy call on Ms Yingluck.

The envoys offered congratulations to Ms Yingluck on her becoming leader of the Pheu Thai-led coalition government, said government spokeswoman Thitima Chaisaeng. Among the visitors was the Indonesian ambassador to Thailand Mohammad Hatta, who said her government was ready to welcome Ms Yingluck to Indonesia next week.

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