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Asia-Pacific
Cambodia and Thailand move to restore ties
Cambodian leader welcomes Thaksin Shinawatra, just days after holding talks with his sister, the Thai prime minister.
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2011 07:59
Yingluck Shinawatra, at right, held talks with Hun Sen on Thai-Cambodia ties during her visit on Thursday [AFP]

Cambodia's leader has welcomed the exiled former Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, for talks in Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital, as the two countries' governments move to restore closer relations.

Hun Sen and Thaksin, who have long been allies, hugged and addressed each other as "brother" when they met on Saturday morning at the city's cabinet offices, the Associated Press news agency reported.

The meeting came just two days after Sen held talks with Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand's prime minister who is also Thaksin's sister, over trade co-operation, border issues, and the release of two Thai prisoners.

Thaksin, who arrived in Phnom Penh on Friday night and is expected to stay until September 24, is also scheduled to deliver a lecture on economic development.

Hun said on Monday that the purpose of Thaksin's visit was not to talk about the countries' border dispute around the Preah Vihear temple, competing claims to offshore oil reserves in the Gulf of Thailand or the possibility for an early release of a pair of Thai nationalist activists serving jail terms in Cambodia for spying.

The warm relationship between the two men contrasts with rocky ties between their two countries since Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 military coup.

There have been several recent deadly border clashes over disputed territory between Cambodia and Thailand, and Sen's embrace of Thaksin was sure to anger the ex-Thai leader's opponents, who say that he is a fugitive running from a corruption conviction.

Yingluck became prime minister in August after leading a pro-Thaksin party to victory in a general election, and she is expected to help boost ties between the two countries.

During her visit to Phnom Penhon on Thursday, she and Hun Sen agreed that troops along their disputed border should meet regularly to ease tensions and withdraw from a temple area as ordered by an international court in July.

Yingluck is also expected to attempt to rehabilitate Thaksin by obtaining a pardon or amnesty for him so he can return home without serving time in prison.

Thaksin fled Thailand in 2008 before being sentenced to two years in prison on a corruption charge. The billionaire ex-leader maintains a home in Dubai and frequently travels in Asia and Africa on business trips.

Source:
Agencies
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