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Yingluck pays last respects to late Cambodian king
Publication Date : 20-10-2012
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra joined her regional counterparts, including leaders from Laos and Vietnam, to pay last respects to Cambodia's late King Norodom Sihanouk in Phnom Penh yesterday.
Yingluck, who was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha, Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom and Vice Foreign Minister Jullapong Nonsrichai, took a flight to Phnom Penh at 1pm yesterday in order to pay her respects to the late king at Chaktomuk Palace at 3.30pm.
Before Yingluck's arrival, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Lao Premier Thongsing Thammavong bid farewell to the late king, who is lying in state at the palace after his body arrived from China on Wednesday.
Cambodians have been mourning their "King Father" since Monday when he died of a heart attack in Beijing at the age of 89. The Cambodian government has made arrangements for a state funeral for the revered former king, who was at the core of building the nation since it gained independence from the French in 1953.
Thais have been familiar with King Sihanouk for a long time because he used Thailand as a haven for peace talks while his country was in political turbulence.
Queen Mother Norodom Monineath, King Sihanouk's son and successor King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen welcomed Yingluck and her delegation at the Throne Hall, where the late king is lying in state.
The arrival of King Sihanouk's body and the state funeral has been under the media spotlight across the world, especially Thailand, which has dispatched representatives to cover the event.
Thai Channel 3 reporter Thapanee Ietsrichai found herself in trouble when she was seen mistakenly stepping on a photograph of the late king while reporting on his funeral. Pictures of the reporter standing on the late king's portrait spread like wildfire, with Cambodians attacking her for disrespecting their much-loved monarch. The reporter and Channel 3 issued apologies later and the reporter was photographed paying obeisance to King Sihanouk.
According to Yuthasak, Yingluck explained the matter to Cambodian leaders and said she hoped such a mistake would not lead to conflict between the two countries. He added that Yingluck had tried to smooth ruffled feathers in a phone conversation with Hun Sen earlier.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Damrong Kraikruan said Yingluck took this matter very seriously and did not want it to damage relations between the two countries. He added that she would raise this issue with King Sihamoni and Hun Sen while in Phnom Penh.