Cambodians Return Early From Summit

Prime Minister Hun Sen and other Cambodian officials returned home from Pattaya, Thailand early after protesters there disrupted the East Asia Summit Saturday.

Speaking to reporters Saturday at the Phnom Penh International Airport, Srey Thamrong, adviser to the premier, said organizers de-

layed the meeting several times before finally deciding to abandon it Saturday afternoon.

“The summit was adjourned be-cause there was no time to discuss while the anti-government group controlled the situation,” he said of the two-day meeting between Asean members and other East Asian nations. Mr Srey Tham-

rong said he did not know when the talks would be rescheduled.

The weekend meeting was in-

tended to address the financial crisis and other regional issues facing Asean leaders who were also scheduled to meet with leaders from China, Japan, South Korea and the UN.

However, supporters of ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra brought the summit to a grinding halt when hundreds of their protesters stormed the hotel hosting the conference and blocked roads leading to the venue.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap, who attended the meeting, said he was dismayed by the abrupt ending of the meeting given the importance and urgency of its topic.

“In my opinion, it is a worse situation that the summit was not able to hold discussions,” he said Sunday, adding that he witnessed activists shatter windows at the hotel. “It is a shame for the hosting country when the protesters obstructed the summit.”

Government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kan-

harith said that the prime minister was offered a private helicopter to transport him from Pattaya to Bangkok, but the offer was de-

clined because Mr Hun Sen did not want to leave behind the rest of his entourage. The Cambodian delegation eventually left by car and was not in any serious danger, he said.

“We understand the difficulty facing the Thai government but we hope that they can resolve it peacefully and quickly,” he added.

On Sunday, the demonstrations appeared to intensify in violence after police arrested a ringleader of the demonstrators who stormed the Interior Ministry, according to The Nation, an English-language Thai newspaper. The newspaper also reported that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency in Bangkok and some districts in nearby provinces.

Kuy Kuong, spokesman for the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the government views the current turmoil in Thailand as a domestic matter and does not foresee it creating any friction between the two nations.

Last week representatives of the two countries signed draft agreements that, if approved, will push forward the demarcation of the Thai-Cambodian border in a number of disputed areas.

When asked if the possibility of the collapse of the Abhisit government might undo this recent pro-

gress, Mr Kuy Kuong said that following previous political change-overs in Bangkok, the Thais have largely respected precedents set by previous governments.

“It does not affect the relation-

[ship] between Cambodia and Thailand. It’s an internal issue for Thailand,” he said, adding the Thai premier was still expected to visit Cambodia on Saturday.

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