Thai Official’s Visit to Cover Refugees, Not KR Blacklist

Thai Deputy Foreign Minister Sukhumbhand Paribatra arrived in Phnom Penh on Sunday for a  three-day visit to discuss the ongoing return of Cambodian refugees from Thailand.

But he declined to comment on reports that the Thai Foreign Ministry has finally blacklisted senior Khmer Rouge leaders from entering Thailand.

Sikhumbhand is to meet today with representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Refu­gees and the government to discuss repatriation progress so far, the remaining caseload and the involvement of other organizations in reintegration.

“There are still over 10,000 Cambodian people staying in the temporary shelter in Thailand. We want to find the most convenient [way]…for returning them voluntarily and safely back to the domicile. That’s the top priority,” Sukhumbhand said.

Asked if he would discuss the Thai government’s reported decision to blacklist the three Khmer Rouge figures Ta Mok, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, he said, “That’s not on the agenda.”

The whereabouts of Ta Mok are still unknown while the two others, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, who defected to the government late last year, are in Pailin.

The Nation newspaper in Bangkok, citing unnamed government sources, reported Fri­day the Thai Foreign Ministry had asked that Ta Mok and the others be put on an immigration blacklist to counter criticism that the Thais have harbored the Khmer Rouge leadership. The report could not be independently confirmed.

Sukhumbhand is to leave for Bangkok on Tuesday.

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