Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Former Thai PM Chavalit visits Cambodia, meeting PM Hun Sen

BANGKOK, Oct 21 (TNA) – Gen. Chavalit Yongchaiyuth, leader-in-waiting of Thailand’s opposition Puea Thai Party, is visiting Phnom Penh at the invitation of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Speaking before leaving for neighbouring Cambodia, Gen. Chavalit said it was a trip to visit an old friend.

The Thai-Cambodian dispute over the area around the 11th century Preah Vihear temple may be discussed if the Cambodian prime minister raised the issue as a friend talk, said Gen. Chavalit.

"Cambodia’s relations with Thailand have not changed much but both sides understand some issues in different ways. That’s not a problem," he said. "Relations will improve."

Tensions between Cambodia and Thailand over the surroundings of Preah Vihear boiled over into violence last year when the temple was granted World Heritage status by the United Nations Educational Science and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Meanwhile, Gen Chavalit and about 50 former classmates of ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra from Class 10 of the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School applied to become members of the opposition Puea Thai party on Tuesday. All had retired from the military.

More retired officials from other classes will later join the Puea Thai party, the one-time Army commander said.

"Everyone wants to spend the rest of their lives to work for the nation without any demand for political position. I clearly said to the Puea Thai (leaders) and members that I want to be neither a prime minister nor have a seat in the cabinet. I’m content to work for the most benefit of the country," Gen. Chavalit said.

"The current conflicts indicate the political alertness of the public," he said. "Compromise and goodwill advice will be very useful to the country. It’s a transition period," Gen. Chavalit said.

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