Three weeks after Thai-Cambodian tensions were stirred up by a highly publicized visit by Prime Minister Hun Sen to Preah Vihear temple, the premier plans to return to the border on Saturday to meet with troops in Pailin province, Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said yesterday.
“He will be visiting troops on the Thai-Cambodian border-we have one division stationed there,” Mr Kanharith said.
Defense Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Chhum Sucheat said yesterday that Mr Hun Sen would also be inaugurating the new headquarters of Brigade 52 in Battambang province’s Ratanak Mondol district during his visit to the northwest.
“I think it is normal for the prime minister to go to the Thai border,” he said. “It is nothing new.”
A soldier in Brigade 52 who gave his name only as Neang said by telephone from Pailin that he and his colleagues are currently preparing to welcome the premier.
“Yes, Samdech will come on the 27th, and he will be visiting Brigade 52,” Neang said.
The border trip is scheduled to take place just one day after the verdict in the asset seizure trial of former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who is a close ally of Mr Hun Sen. The court’s verdict is expected to be a flashpoint in Thai politics, with protests by Thaksin-aligned red-shirts already mounting against the Abhisit Vejjajiva government.
Earlier this month, the premier’s tour of border sites sparked a verbal tussle with Thailand, which was exacerbated when Mr Hun Sen gave a speech attacking Mr Abhisit and accusing him of rising to power illegitimately.