Gov’t Seeks To Clarify PM’s Comments on Thailand

The Cambodian government sought Tuesday to clarify Prime Minister Hun Sen’s comments on the political situation in Bangkok after it was reported that the premier had said that Thailand should relinquish its Asean chairmanship.

Hun Sen emerged from a meeting Monday with US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte questioning both Cambodia’s ability to bilaterally resolve a two-month border dispute with Thailand and that country’s ability to host future Asean summits amid Bangkok’s political turbulence.

“I am concerned as an Asean mem­ber if Asean cannot have a meeting in Thailand whether we can return to Singapore or Vietnam?” Hun Sen told reporters.

However, a news report published in The Bangkok Post quoted the prime minister as saying, “The Thais should hand the chair to either Singapore or Vietnam.”

Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith on Tuesday blasted the article as inaccurate and said Hun Sen had merely expressed concern as to whether Thailand is capable of hosting the annual Asean summit in December.

Khieu Kanharith denied that Hun Sen suggested Thailand give up its Asean chairmanship.

“Until now, the government’s desire is nothing but to see the Thai situation become normal in order to have peace and harmony in Thai society and the Asean community,” Khieu Kanharith said in a statement.

Contacted by telephone, he said that the clarification was issued “to avoid confusion and misunderstanding that extremists can use for political exploitation.”

The Thai government said Tues­day it remains fit to chair Asean and host upcoming Asean summits, Thai newspaper The Nation reported.

“Don’t worry about who will be the prime minister or foreign minister of Thailand. No matter who takes the office, Thailand is ready to host the Asean meeting,” The Nation quoted government spokesman Wic­hienchote Sukchoterat as saying.

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