CHIANGRAI TIMES – Thaksin Shinawatra will visit Cambodia on Friday to attend a conference on the Asian economy – not to negotiate petroleum resources in the countries’ overlapping claims area in the Gulf of Thailand as speculated, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday.
“Thaksin’s visit to Cambodia was scheduled before the official visit of newly elected Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who will visit Cambodia on [Thursday],” he said during a graduation ceremony of 4,100 students at the National University of Management in Phnom Penh.
“But the visit of Thaksin on [Friday] until Sept 24 is to join the Asian Economic Future Conference, organised by the Royal Academy of Cambodia, not to talk with Cambodia on oil and gas issues,” Hun Sen was quoted as saying by China’s state-owned Xinhua news agency.
“Thaksin has no duty to negotiate on oil and gas deals and other issues with Cambodia at all, as it is the duty of the Thai government, not Thaksin,” Hun Sen said.
Cambodia and Thailand entered into a memorandum of understanding regarding their overlapping maritime claims on the continental shelf in June 2001, setting out an agreed area to be delimited and an agreed joint development area, but the talks stalled during the administration of former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
No agreement has been reached on an oil and gas deal between Cambodia and Thailand, Hun Sen said.
Deputy Prime Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit said in Parliament yesterday that for the sake of transparency, the government would bring the negotiating framework into the legislature for a reading before making any deal with Cambodia.
Thaksin will give a lecture on Asian Economics on Saturday at the Peace Palace, Hun Sen said. “After that, I will officially greet him at the Peace Palace and we will talk about economic development,” he said.
He added that he would play golf with Thaksin on Sunday and that on Sept 24, Cambodian and Thai parliamentarians and high-ranking officials would play football together at Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday expressed gratitude to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono over Indonesia’s role in facilitating peace efforts between Thailand and Cambodia.
THAILAND TO COOPERATE FULLY
Thailand would fully cooperate with Indonesia, which is handling the matter for Asean, Yingluck said in a meeting with Yudhoyono in Jakarta. Indonesia was the second country the new PM paid an official visit to, to introduce herself to her Asean leaders. Her first port of call was Brunei on Saturday, and she will visit Cambodia on Thursday, then Laos on Friday.
In a joint press statement in Jakarta, Yingluck and Yudhoyono said Thailand and Indonesia would boost cooperation in trade, energy and agriculture.
Indonesia was interested in cooperation on the halal food industry, Yingluck said.
Indonesian trade with Thailand rose by 34 per cent in 2010 to $US12 billion (S$15 billion), Yudhoyono said.
“We believe that there will still be new opportunities to boost trade cooperation,” he said.
Both sides also pledged to step up cooperation in tackling illegal fishing, combating transnational crime, and increasing the number of foreign tourist arrivals.
Yudhoyono said Indonesia would beef up its role in settling the Thai-Cambodian border dispute. Indonesia supported the Thai prime minister’s plan to visit Cambodia in coming days, he said.
Indonesia, as the current chair of Asean, planned to dispatch a team of observers to assess the situation and monitor the withdrawal of troops in disputed border areas adjacent to Preah Vihear Temple.
Thailand and Cambodia have been at loggerheads over the temple for a long time but the recent conflict erupted when Phnom Penh pushed for World Heritage listing for Preah Vihear in 2008, a move which Thailand opposed.
The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that Preah Vihear was situated on Cambodian territory, but Thailand claims ownership of land adjacent to the temple.
Cambodia asked the ICJ in April to interpret the scope and meaning of the 1962 judgement. The court is now in the process of interpreting the 49-year-old ruling. While waiting for this, the court issued a provisional order on July 18, instructing both countries to withdraw troops from a court determined demilitarised zone.
But Thailand and Cambodia have yet to reach an agreement how to comply with the court’s instruction.
Thaksin Shinawatra was officially appointed as adviser of his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen and the Royal Government of Cambodia King Norodom Sihamoni, a statement of the Royal Government announced on Wednesday.
The King signed the Royal Decree of the appointment of Thaksin Shinawatra on Oct. 27. The appointment was made in accordance with the country’s constitutions and at the request of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Hun Sen said, as he arrived in the beach resort of Hua Hin, Thailand, for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit on Oct. 23, that “Thaksin can stay in Cambodia as a guest of Cambodia. He can also be my adviser on the economy”.
The Cambodian leader repeated an earlier invitation to Thaksin to stay in Cambodia and rejected Thai claims that Phnom Penh would have to extradite the tycoon.
“Our concern is for humanitarian reasons, it is friends helping friends. The internal affairs of Thailand would be left for Thai people to resolve, I am not interfering,” said Hun Sen.
Thaksin was toppled from power in 2006 and he has been living in self-exile in foreign countries since then to avoid a two-year jail term for corruption.
Also, in the statement, Cambodia said it will not extradite Thaksin at a request from Thailand if he comes and stays in Cambodia. Meanwhile, it said that the Royal Government will continue its policy of having friendly relations with Thailand.
Ties between Cambodia and Thailand have been soured since June 2008 amid a border conflict over land surrounding an 11th century temple. But relations have cooled further since Hun Sen made his first invitation to Thaksin last month.
The Cambodian government said earlier that under treaties between the two nations it could reject a request for Thaksin’s extradition because it would be made on the grounds of “political offence.”
Thaksin, born in Thailand’s northern province Chiang Mai in 1949, became one of the richest people in Thailand by setting up telecommunications companies like Shin Corporation and Advanced Info Service before entering politics.