Archive for category cambodia International relation

Thailand, Cambodia spar over Thaksin haven offer

BANGKOK – Thailand would seek the extradition of fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra if he accepts an invitation for refuge in neighboring Cambodia, the Thai prime minister said Thursday.

The reaction came a day after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen pronounced Thaksin a “political victim.” Hun Sen said that Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 coup and later convicted of conflict of interest, was welcome in Cambodia _ even saying there’s a house ready for him.

Relations between Cambodia and Thailand are already strained over a border dispute over a parcel of land around an 11th century temple, and Hun Sen’s comments appeared timed to rattle Thailand as it prepares to host an annual Asian summit.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is hosting the summit of Asian leaders _ including the Cambodian premier _ this weekend under tight security to prevent protests by Thaksin supporters who overran a previous summit in April, forcing the leaders’ evacuation.

Abhisit said Thursday that Thailand will make an extradition request if Thaksin is given shelter in Cambodia but played down the impact of Hun Sen’s comments on bilateral relations.

Abhisit said he is aware of Hun Sen’s friendship with Thaksin and believes his Cambodian counterpart will differentiate between “friendship and duty.”

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya also suggested the remarks would not hurt relations.

“I cannot second-guess his intentions, but he’s a leader and a statesman and a senior member of ASEAN,” Kasit said of Hun Sen. “It is not possible that relations between two individuals are more important than relations between two countries.”

In Phnom Penh, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said his country will officially reply if Thai officials officially raise the extradition issue.

The two countries have had an extradition treaty since 2001.

Thaksin has been living mostly in self-imposed exile since he was ousted by the military. He was convicted last year of conflict of interest and sentenced to two years in prison, yet remains popular among Thailand’s rural poor who benefited from his populist programs.

Thai officials have revoked Thaksin’s passports, and much of his fortune remains frozen in Thai banks. He has been barred from several countries following diplomatic pressure from Thailand.

Past extradition attempts from other countries have failed due partly to bureaucracy and an inability to locate Thaksin, the government has said.

Since the coup, Thaksin has surfaced in Dubai, Hong Kong, Nicaragua, Liberia and Montenegro in pursuit of investment opportunities.

Source: AP


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Cambodia refutes U.S. underestimation of its anti-terrorism capability

The Cambodian Information Minister has refuted a U.S. State Department report about the country’s capability of countering terrorism as “not 100 percent correct,” national media said on Sunday.

The recently issued U.S. report about the global anti-terrorism situation claimed that terrorists might take advantage of the weakness of Cambodia, such as corruption, poverty and lax management of the border, to carry out illegal acts in its territory, despite the government had made a clear promise to crack down on this type of crime, the newspaper Jian Hua Daily quoted the minister as saying.

In addition, Cambodia lacked training and other resources to counter terrorism, it added.

Khieu Kanharith, also spokesman for the Cambodian government, said “there is no country in the world that can control its border with 100 percent accuracy, neither Cambodia.”

However, “the government has established strong and trustworthy relations with different communities in order to nip any social violence in bud,” the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, the newspaper also quoted a senior official of the Interior Minister as saying that there is minimum possibility that terrorists’ acts occur in Cambodia, and fighting against money laundering should be the kingdom’s priority in the anti-terrorism field.

According to official reports, no major terrorism case with global connection has occurred in the country so far.


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Canada closes embassies in Cambodia, Bosnia

Jennifer Ditchburn

OTTAWA – The Harper government is closing Canada’s embassies in Cambodia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, countries still struggling to recover from a violent past.

The announcements were made on the websites of embassies, with the same explanation on both: “The government of Canada continually monitors its representation abroad and periodically shifts resources to meet Canada’s needs in an ever-changing world.”

The government said the decision was taken “following a serious examination of Canada’s current diplomatic representation abroad.”

Four other missions have been closed since the Conservatives came to power, in Milan, Italy, St. Petersburg, Russia, and Fukuoka and Osaka, Japan.

The government noted that there has actually been a net increase of 25 missions in the past 15 years – most of them in the United States.

The Foreign Affairs Department said it will keep a humanitarian assistance office open in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.

The country still has serious problems with crime, drugs and human rights violations. A UN-backed war crimes commission is grilling members of the Khmer Rouge regime for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people.

Canada sent peacekeepers to the region for a period in the early 1990s.

Sambo Chhom, executive director of the Canadian Cambodian Association of Ontario, said closing the embassy will have an adverse affect on the lives of Cambodians.

“The Cambodian government feels its being watched by the Canadian government. They wouldn’t do anything harsh while they’re there because they fear an international outcry,” Chhom said.

“Without the Canadian government there, the NGOs will have less contact with outside countries.”

Canadians travelling in Cambodia who need consular assistance will be directed to the Australian embassy.

Those who need help in Bosnia-Herzegovina are being directed to an Ottawa-based emergency number, or an office in Budapest, Hungary. A consulate is scheduled to be opened in Sarajevo in the future.

Canada set up an embassy in Sarajevo in 1996 after the bloody civil war there ended. About 40,000 Canadian troops served in the peacekeeping mission there between 1992-2004.

The government will remain a member of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which monitors the country’s progress at reaching some of the security and governance goals outlined in the peace agreement reached in 1995.

Some retired diplomats and other observers have criticized budget cuts to the Department of Foreign Affairs that began under the Liberals and continued under the Conservatives.

On Thursday, provincial trade ministers urged the federal government to increase its international profile in order to stimulate more trade and investment with Canada.

One of the Conservative government’s first acts in 2006 was to slash $11 million from the diplomacy budget, cash that allows representatives abroad to promote Canada.


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