Security Tight For Thai PM’s Saturday Visit

Amid recent reports that drug lords may have hatched plans to assassinate Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Cambodian officials have vowed that stringent security will be in place in Siem Reap town during the Thai prime minister’s visit  Saturday.

Some 2,000 provincial police will be deployed for the meeting between the Cambodian Cabinet, led by Prime Minister Hun Sen, and Thai counterparts.

“We are thinking seriously about [Thaksin’s] safety and about the security and safety of the whole meeting,” Siem Reap Deputy Governor Pich Sokhin said on Tuesday.

Officials in Siem Reap said local provincial forces will be backed up by elite police units from the Interior Ministry in Phnom Penh.

The officials would not disclose how many extra security personnel will be sent to secure the meeting, but Thai and Cambodia security chiefs already have met three times to discuss preparations for the meeting.

Two more meetings, chaired by National Police Director General Hok Lundy and his Thai counterpart, are scheduled to be held in Siem Reap town before the meeting, the officials said.

“There will be more than 2,000 police officers deployed for public security. We started work today assessing the security  situation and checking for [illegal] weapons,” Siem Reap Police Chief  Nuon Bophal said on Tuesday.

Nuon Bophal said Thaksin’s personal bodyguards will attend the meeting in Cambodia, but he did not know how large the Thai security detail would be.

Last week, 1,000 police officers were assigned to protect the Thai prime minister following a warning by Thai security agencies and the US that an attack may have been planned against him.

In March, the Thai government issued claims that foreign drug traffickers had placed a $1.9 million bounty on Thaksin’s head.

Thailand’s drug business has been turned upside down by a three-month campaign launched by Thaksin to target drug smugglers. The campaign resulted in more than 2,000 deaths by the time it ended last month.

Cambodian Foreign Ministry Undersecretary of State Sieng Lapresse said several bi-lateral agreements are due to be signed during the meeting.

The agreements include memorandums of understanding on the elimination of human trafficking, cooperation on road construction, education and agriculture and a ministerial statement on new border checkpoints.

Phnom Penh and Bangkok have been working to repair diplomatic relations left in ruins following the Jan 29 anti-Thai riots in Phnom Penh when mobs of young people torched the Thai Embassy and a dozen Thai-owned businesses in Phnom Penh, causing some $50 million in damage.

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