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Monday, September 19, 2011

Thaksin and Hun Sen deny bilateral issues on agenda

Ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra got a warm welcome from Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday - two days after the former s younger sister Prime Minister Yingluck made her first official visit to the country. After Thaksin's arrival yesterday evening, he and Hun Sen hugged and greeted each other as "brother".

Hun Sen said there was no discussion of bilateral issues during his meeting with Thaksin, amid speculation that the two countries' overlapping maritime claims were on the agenda.

Thaksin was scheduled to deliver a lecture on development as part of a conference on the Asian economy, and to play a round of golf during his weeklong stay. Thaksin said he was visiting Cambodia to participate in the Asian Century forum at the invitation of Jose de Venecia, honourable chairman of the Centrist Asia Pacific Democrats International and a member of the Royal Academy of Cambodia.

He added that he would also attend a separate economic forum for Cambodian economists. Thaksin said he would deliver lectures on the challenges and opportunities facing economic development in Asia at the two events.

Hun Sen said the aim of Thaksin's visit was to exchange ideas on economic development, not to negotiate with Cambodia on either joint oil and gas development of overlapping maritime claims in the Gulf of Thailand, or the recent border conflict near the Preah Vihear Temple.

Yingluck yesterday posted the following message on her Facebook page: "As the head of the government, I confirm that the 4.6 square kilometres [adjacent to the temple] is in Thai territory. Thailand claims it belongs to Thailand, Cambodia claims it belongs to Cambodia. This is why it is called, 'overlapping area'. This government will solve the problem of overlapping area through diplomatic measures according to the evidence and international laws."

After Yingluck's visit on Thursday, Democrat spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said the prime minister had failed to assert Thailand's claim to the disputed 4.6-sq-km area, damaging Thailand's campaign to claim the land.

Chavanond also raised concerns about Yingluck's meeting with Chevron CEO John Watson ahead of her trip.

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