Ex-Thai Leader Embraces Cambodian PM

Posted September 17th, 2011 at 10:18 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Thailand's former prime minister appeared in neighboring Cambodia Saturday for high level talks with that country's leadership.

Thaksin Shinawatra publicly embraced Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen during a meeting in Phnom Penh. Officials said the two were scheduled to discuss a variety of issues, including trade, an ongoing border dispute and the release of two Thai prisoners.

Mr. Thaksin's visit comes just days after his sister, current Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, traveled to Phnom Penh for high level talks.

Relations between the two countries have been strained at times, and tensions flared earlier this year when border clashes killed 28 people and displaced thousands of villagers near a disputed temple.

Thailand acknowledges the 900-year-old Hindu-Khmer temple, called Preah Vihear (PREH-vee-HEAR) in Cambodia and Phra Viharn (PRAH WEE-hahn) in Thailand, belongs to Cambodia. Still, Bangkok claims much of the land surrounding the facility, including a key access road.

Mr. Thaksin's visit has generated some controversy in Thailand. The former prime minister was convicted on corruption charges in Thailand while his political opponents were in office. Oppositions politicians say the government is obliged to try to bring him to justice.

Relations between Thailand and Cambodia have improved dramatically since Ms. Yingluck came to office replacing the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

During her one-day visit with the Cambodian prime minister on Thursday, Ms. Yingluck agreed to redeploy troops away from the contested border area.

Ahead of the Yingluck visit, Thai officials said the prime minister would press for the release of Thai nationalist Veera Somkwamkid and his secretary, who were convicted on espionage charges after crossing illegally into Cambodia earlier this year. Veera was a legislator with Mr. Abhisit's party at the time of his arrest.