Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thai gov't plays down Hun Sen's offer of asylum for Thaksin+

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

BANGKOK, Oct. 22 (AP) - (Kyodo)—Suthep Thuagsuban, Thai deputy prime minister, played down Thursday Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's offer to provide asylum to deposed Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Suthep said he was not surprised by the offer because Thaksin is among Hun Sen's friends. The offer, he added, will not affect bilateral relations between Thailand and Cambodia.

"The Cambodian premier has the right to have many friends, even if that friend is one who has a problem with us," he said.

Suthep also said the Thai government would ask Cambodia to extradite Thaksin to Thailand if the ousted premier intends to stay in Cambodia.

Extradition arrangements between Thailand and Cambodia have been in force since 2001.

Meanwhile, Thaksin, who is in Dubai, posted on a blog he "truly appreciates Prime Minister Hun Sen for his kind offer and bravery to tell the public that I am his friend."

Hun Sen made the offer of sanctuary for Thaksin on Wednesday during talks with former Thai Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh at Hun Sen's residence on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

The offer came just two days before he is to visit Thailand for a series of regional summits.

Thai Vice Foreign Minister Panich Vikitsreth said Thailand will not raise the issue during the ASEAN Summit, saying it was a personal issue among Hun Sen, Chavalit and Thaksin.

Wednesday's public comment was the first by Hun Sen in support of Thaksin since Thaksin was overthrown by the Thai military in 2006.

He fled the country in August last year shortly before a court sentenced him to two years in jail for breaking a conflict of interest law while he was in power.

Since then, Thaksin has been seeking a safe place for his political activities.

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