Signaling a further thaw in relations between Thailand and Cambodia, Thai Ambassador Chatchavet Chartsuwan arrived at Phnom Penh International Airport Thursday morning, after more than two months away from his post. Smiling for reporters, he said he was glad to be able to return to his posting.
“It was just a misunderstanding,” Chatchavet Chartsuwan told reporters in reference to the Jan 29 anti-Thai riots that caused heavy damage to the Thai Embassy and a number of Thai-owned businesses around the capital. “Now we have normalized relations,” he said.
Yim Rom, a member of Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit who was on hand to escort the ambassador, said the prime minister has assigned 45 of his men to provide security for the Thai diplomats at all times.
The ambassador said that his staff of eight people have been in Cambodia for some time. The Thais have set up temporary residence and operations in the former Japanese Embassy.
The ambassador said refurbishment of the scorched and ransacked Thai Embassy would begin in May, but he could not yet give an estimate of the cost.
On March 17 the government transferred almost $6 million to a Thai government bank account to help compensate for the damage to embassy and to get the normalization process under way.
The owners of damaged Thai businesses have estimated the compensation due to them at just less than $50 million. A final settlement is not yet in sight.
Chatchavet’s return follows a meeting in Bangkok last week at which Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng, Defense Minister Tea Banh and National Police Director Hok Lundy agreed with Thai officials on measures to help restore relations between the two countries.
Among those was the establishment of cultural committees from each nation that are mandated to decide on a single history of Thai-Cambodian relations to be taught in both countries’ schools. Chatchavet said this project will take some time but that joint seminars are being planned.
malization process under way.
The owners of damaged Thai businesses have estimated the compensation due to them at just less than $50 million. Cambodian officials have speculated that this figure is overblown and a final settlement is not yet in sight.