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NEWS UPDATES 7 November 2009

Thailand scraps oil and gas MoU with Cambodia

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Thailand would tear up an oil and gas exploration deal with Cambodia, and might as well seal the border between the two countries, AFP quoted Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya as saying Friday in Bangkok.

He said that Thailand had decided to cancel a 2001 agreement to jointly develop a disputed area in the Gulf of Thailand which was signed during Thaksin's time in power.

Twice-elected Thaksin was ousted in a coup in 2006 and had close relations with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen during his six years in power. Thaksin is now living abroad to avoid a two-year jail term for corruption.

"The Foreign Ministry has decided to terminate the memorandum of understanding between Thailand and Cambodia to develop the overlapping area which was signed by the Thaksin government," Kasit said.

Kasit said the oil and gas exploration deal for a 26,000-square-kilometre area had made no progress in the last eight years and he would propose to the Cabinet on Tuesday that it should be scrapped.

The move followed the appointment of convicted ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra as economic adviser to the Cambodian government.

Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva reaffirmed on Friday that Thailand has downgraded its diplomatic ties with neighbouring Cambodia in an attempt to protect the Thai judicial system and the benefits of the Thai people, state news agency TNA reported.

The Thai premier made comments while he was attending the first Mekong-Japan Summit in the Japanese capital of Tokyo, where Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia was also present.

Abhisit said that the downgraded diplomatic ties is a retaliation by Thailand against the Cambodian government after it appointed Thaksin as personal adviser to Hun Sen and as economic advisor to the Cambodian government, while also insisting it will not extradite Thaksin if he stays in Cambodia.


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