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20 November 2009

Thai-Cambodia diplomatic row deepens

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The Thai-Cambodian diplomatic row grew more complicated yesterday when Phnom Penh Defence Minister Tea Banh strongly criticised a Thai red-shirt leader for "making up" a story about a secret tape involving the Thai foreign minister, Thailand’s independent daily the Nation reported.

Tea Banh and Cambodia's Foreign Ministry yesterday rejected the claim by Jatuporn Promphan that Cambodian officials had taped a phone conversation between Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and a diplomat in Phnom Penh over former PM Thaksin Shinawatra's flight plan. Cambodia's Foreign Ministry also flatly denied existence of any secret tape.

"The Foreign Ministry of Cambodia is not aware of the interception of a telephone conversation between the Thai minister and the diplomat. We don't do such things," Cambodian foreign ministry spokesman Koy Kuong told The Nation in a telephone interview from Phnom Penh.

Jatuporn, an MP with the opposition Pheu Thai Party, claimed Cambodian authorities had recorded a phone conversation when Kasit ordered first secretary at the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh Kamrob Palawatwichai to get details of Thaksin's flights.

Meanwhile, Cambodian authorities have taken temporary control of CATS, a Thai-operated air traffic control company at the centre of spying allegations, a move set to deepen an ongoing diplomatic row, Reuters reported.

The two countries are embroiled in a diplomatic row sparked last month when Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen offered former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra a job as an economic adviser.

A 31-year-old Thai engineer for Cats has been accused of sending Thaksin's flight schedule to a Thai diplomat, who has since been expelled.


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