New Thai PM Pledges To Honor Existing Deals

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.


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