Thailand’s new prime minister, Surayud Chulanont, gave assurances during his one-day state visit Sunday that agreements made between the previous Thai government and Cambodia would be upheld, Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen greeted Surayud at Phnom Penh International Airport, where a welcoming crowd of several hundred officials were also on hand. The two promptly left for a meeting at the Council of Ministers without talking to reporters.
Following the one-hour meeting, Khieu Kanharith said that Surayud—who was installed as prime minister Oct 1 by Thai military leaders who took power in a bloodless coup in September—“pledges to keep previous agreements.”
These relate to bird flu cooperation, the setting of border markers, development along the Thai border, and the construction of roads from Thailand into Koh Kong province and from Poipet to Siem Reap town, which Thailand has agreed to fund, Khieu Kanharith said.
Surayud also addressed Hun Sen’s concerns about disputed offshore oil resources.
In an August visit to Phnom Penh, then-Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra discussed a potential agreement between Cambodia and Thailand on disputed oil resources in the Gulf of Thailand that both countries claim. No final agreement was reached.
“Surayud said he supported what had previously been agreed to, but was going to leave the work to the [Thai] Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Khieu Kanharith said.
Khieu Kanharith also said that Surayud thanked Hun Sen for Cambodia’s prompt recognition of the new Thai government.
US Embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle said that despite concerns regarding the military-appointed Thai government, the US believes there are positive signs of a transition back to democratic governance in Thailand.
“The formation of a civil Cabinet is a step forward,” he said. “But more needs to be done to move towards a return to democracy.”
Chea Vannath, former president of the Center for Social Development, said this was not a typical state visit. “It’s…to keep [Thailand’s] neighbors informed and to assure them that it is still stable,” she said.