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Thaksin quits as Phnom Penh's economic adviser

By: Supalak Ganjanakhundee Posted: August-24-2010 in
Supalak Ganjanakhundee

Cambodia and Thailand decide to reinstate their ambassadors

Thailand's bilateral ties with Cambodia appear to have returned to normal as it decided to reinstate its ambassador now that former PM Thaksin Shinawatra has resigned as economic adviser to Phnom Penh.

However, Thaksin's reasons were not altruistic - he said he could not do his duties properly because he had a lot of business to attend to overseas.

"From today [Monday], former Thai prime minister is no longer an economic adviser to the government of Cambodia and to Prime Minister Hun Sen," Cambodian Foreign Ministry's spokesman Koy Kuong said in a phone interview from Phnom Penh. "He finds it difficult to fulfil his duty as an adviser to Cambodia."

Appointed by King Norodom Sihamoni last October, Thaksin's post was at the core of the conflict between the two countries, which were already having disputes over the controversial Preah Vihear Temple.

Thailand regarded this appointment as an insult to its judicial system, because Thaksin was refusing to come home to serve his jail sentence over corruption. Things became worse when the fugitive visited Phnom Penh in his capacity as economic adviser last November, and Cambodia rejected Thailand's request to have him extradited.

In response, Bangkok downgraded its bilateral diplomatic relations, scrapped its maritime deal and dropped plans to fund the construction of a road from the Thai border to Cambodia's Siem Reap province.

In retaliation, Cambodia arrested a Thai engineer and expelled a Thai diplomat over charges of spying on Thaksin's flight plan.

When asked if Thaksin's resignation would affect the bilateral ties, Koy Kuong said Cambodia kept the two issues apart.

"It's up to Thailand. If they reinstate the Thai ambassador, we will reciprocate," he said.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said he had instructed Ambassador Prasas Prasasvinitchai to resume his duties in Phnom Penh today, adding that the Cambodian envoy should return to Bangkok at around the same time.

"I'm happy, and I thank the Cambodian government for cooperating to help with our relations," Kasit said.

Prasas said he was ready to return to his job in Phnom Penh as ordered by the minister. "I will do my best as ambassador to restore our relations," he said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said normalising bilateral ties would help the two countries solve many conflicts on border issues, notably those related to the Hindu temple of Preah Vihear. "Since the relations are back to normal, I think we can solve the problems more easily," he told reporters.

Thaksin's legal adviser and former foreign minister Noppadon Pattama said Thaksin's resignation would pave the way for the two countries to restore relations.

"He resigned of his own will so the two governments can normalise relations," Noppadon said.

Source: The Nation

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