Thai Premier Cancels Visit, Citing Turmoil

Turmoil in Bangkok has postponed scheduled talks between the prime ministers of Cambodia and Thailand, officials said Tuesday.

Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva was to be in Phnom Penh on Sa­turday, in part to discuss the recent border disputes, as well as to meet with King Norodom Siham­oni and other top officials.

However, anti-government protestors have been clashing with authorities on the streets of Bang­kok over the past week, leading to two deaths and doz­ens of injuries, while the Thai capital remains under a state of emergency.

“We received formal diplomatic notices from the Thai Embassy that the Thai prime minister canceled his visit to Cambodia because of the political situation in Bang­kok,” Kuy Kuong, Foreign Affairs Ministry undersecretary of state, said by telephone Tuesday.

Kamrob Palawatwichai, first secretary at the Thai Embassy in Ph­n­om Penh, said the trip to Cambodia has only been postponed, but could offer no details on when another one may be scheduled.

Tensions are high between Cam­bodia and its northern neighbor after another bloody clash around Preah Vihear temple earlier this month.

“I expect that when the situation calms down, [Mr Abhisit] will plan another visit,” Khieu Kanharith, Cambodian government spokes­man and minister of information, said Tuesday.

The Thai premier was also to bring with him seven Khmer artifacts from a batch of 43 that were confiscated from smugglers by Thai authorities.

National Museum Director Hab Touch said by telephone Tuesday that he wasn’t sure if the artifacts would be returned after the canceled visit. “I am still waiting for information,” he said. Mr Abhisit was to return the antiquities during a ceremony Saturday afternoon at the National Museum.

“I am still planning the ceremony for the return of the artifacts on Sat­urday afternoon,” Mr Hab Tou­ch said, adding that he is waiting for more information from the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Foreign Affairs Ministry officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon to determine the status of the artifacts.

(Additional reporting by Bethany Lindsay.)




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