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NEWS UPDATES 6 November 2009

Thai-Cambodia Relations: Envoys recalled as diplomatic row escalates

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Thailand's Ministry of Foreign affairs on Thursday recalled the Thai envoy to Phnom Penh, in retaliation to Cambodia’s appointment of convicted former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as personal advisor to Cambodian Premier Hun Sen and advisor on economy to his government, reported the Thai News Agency.

Cambodia hit back hours later, with Deputy Prime Minister Sok An saying that it was withdrawing its envoy from Bangkok as a "temporary measure" until Thailand sent its envoy back to Phnom Penh, reported AFP. Sok An said the recalls would not affect trade or raise tensions along the border.

Cambodia could not differentiate the bilateral relations of the two nations from personal ties, although the Thai government has repeatedly informed the Cambodian government that the two kingdoms' relationship must remain beyond personal ties, said the Thai foreign ministry.

The ministry added the decision made by the Cambodian government affects the feelings of the Thai people, as Thaksin has been convicted of offenses and escaped jail, at the same time he still has influence over domestic politics.

Thaksin’s appointment as economic advisor of the Cambodian government and as personal advisor to Hun Sen means that Cambodia is now interfering Thailand's domestic affairs and harming the Thai justice procedure, according to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The ministry said that Thailand has decided to review the Thai-Cambodian relationship and recall its ambassador to Phnom Penh, and review all commitments and cooperation between the two kingdoms.

Tensions between Thailand and Cambodia heightened when Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen announced while attending the 15th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit in Hua Hin at the end of October that Thaksin, whom he described as his close friend, could remain in Cambodia as his personal guest and could be his economic advisor.

Relations between the two predominantly Buddhist nations have been strained since July 2008 by the ongoing border conflict over land surrounding an 11th century Cambodian temple after it was granted UN World Heritage status.

The Thai and Cambodian prime ministers are both due to attend a mini summit of leaders from Mekong Basin countries in the Japanese capital Tokyo on Friday and Saturday, AFP reported.


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