Prime Minister Hun Sen has offered exiled former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra a place to stay in Cambodia, according to a television broadcast and government spokesman.
The offer was made during a lunchtime meeting yesterday with another former Thai premier, General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, according to a program shown on TVK last night, a fact confirmed by Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan.
“If Thaksin wishes to visit Cambodia, [Mr Hun Sen] offers a place to stay,” Mr Siphan said by telephone yesterday.
The television segment of the meeting between Mr Chavalit and the premier also featured footage of Mr Hun Sen praising Mr Thaksin in an interview recorded after his meal with Mr Chavalit at his residence in Takhmau town.
“On this occasion, I would like to tell Mr Thaksin that I, Hun Sen, am still friends forever with Thaksin, even though he is not the premier; I still love him,” the premier said.
Mr Hun Sen also said that he and Mr Chavalit agreed to form a permanent mechanism of cooperation between Cambodia’s ruling CPP and Mr Chavalit’s opposition Puea Thai party.
“I have discussed about this communication between the CPP and Puea Thai since this party was formed. I appointed Defense Minister Tea Banh as the representative in this communication,” Mr Hun Sen says in the TVK broadcast.
Mr Chavalit told TVK that he was honored to speak with the prime minister. “I am proud to have a good friend like Premier Hun Sen,” Mr Chavalit said. “I have never met a friend who is so open when speaking with a friend.”
After Mr Chavalit returned to Bangkok last night, the Bangkok Post quoted him as saying that Mr Hun Sen has built a house for Mr Thaksin in Cambodia.
Mr Siphan said yesterday that he could not confirm that specific information that a residence has been built for Mr Thaksin. “I have no idea. It’s a place to stay,” Mr Siphan said.
He also said that he had no information concerning previous reports that Mr Thaksin has already visited Cambodia.
“I have not seen any report that Thaksin has been in Cambodia yet,” Mr Siphan said.
When asked if the offer of shelter would affect relations with the incumbent government in Bangkok and the ongoing dispute over territory near Preah Vihear temple, Mr Siphan said, “Thaksin visiting Cambodia and the border dispute are not connected.”
He added that the Joint Border Commission is sorting out the dispute.
“The JBC is a technically independent organization to find the border lines…. It has no connection to political parties.”
An earlier report published in the Bangkok Post yesterday quoted Deputy Thai Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban as saying that Mr Chavalit’s visit to Mr Hun Sen was “not considered disrespectful to the government. To the contrary, if his visit proves to be in the country’s best interests, we would have to thank him.”