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Phnom Penh won't shelter wanted Thais, says Cambodia's DPM

Publication Date : 30-07-2014

 

Cambodia will not allow any Thai politicians who face arrest warrants in Thailand to shelter on its territory - and it has laws against such moves, Cambodian deputy premier and defence minister General Tea Banh said yesterday.

Cambodia has no policy to allow anyone to use its land to operate against Thailand or other countries," he insisted.

Tea Banh was speaking after completing a two-day official visit to the Kingdom, the first since the Thai military junta seized power in late May.

He met with National Council for Peace and Order chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, during which Prayuth informed him of the NCPO's work, which was focused on solving political problems so that the country could move towards "perfect democracy".

The junta chief also thanked Cambodia for freeing via a royal amnesty Veera Somkwamkit, a Thai activist jailed in Phnom Penh for espionage. He said the NCPO was also moving to develop border areas for the benefit of both countries.

Tea Banh, meanwhile, said Cambodia understood the need for the junta to step in to solve the country's problems.

Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni, Prime Minister Hun Sen and other officials support the Thai military leaders, he said, adding that the country was therefore ready to work with the junta as its neighbour steps towards the Asean Economic Community, which comes into at the end of 2015.

A Thai source said the Thai side had asked Phnom Penh not to allow Thai politicians who fled the Kingdom when the junta seized power to use Cambodia as a shelter.

They include Jakrapob Penkair and Charupong Ruangsuwan, whose passports have already been revoked. However, it was reported that they had alternative passports issued by other countries.

Improved relations

Meanwhile, Cambodia's deputy army chief, Lt-General Hun Manet, said Hun Sen had expressed concern over Thailand's situation and wished that the country could move forward and the ruling junta could solve the problems it faced.

Hun Manet, who is a son of the prime minister, accompanied Tea Banh on his official visit to Thailand. He is also commander of Hun Sen's security unit. The visit is regarded as a reflection of improved bilateral relations following the conflict over Preah Vihear temple, after Cambodia took a case against Thailand to the International Court of Justice.

During Abhisit Vejjajiva's government, Hun Sen strongly criticised Thailand and appointed fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra as an adviser. Tea Banh's entourage comprised high-ranking officials in the Cambodian armed forces.

Bilateral relations will have improved following Phnom Penh's agreement to free Veera, a known activist against Cambodia over the Preah Vihear controversy.

A senior Thai Army official said Tea Banh's visit had been arranged following the return of a huge number of Cambodian workers who fled home from Thailand following rumours that the junta would launch a severe crackdown against them.

Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy had used the incident to criticise Hun Sen in order to gain more support. Phnom Penh therefore wished to discuss the issue with the Thai side to make sure that it would not come up again, the military official said.

 

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