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Govt: Thailand must act first to restore ties

FOREIGN Minister Hor Namhong has repeated the government’s stance that it is ready to restore full diplomatic relations with Thailand, provided that Bangkok takes the first step and returns its ambassador to Cambodia.

Hor Namhong said that because Thailand acted first when the two countries withdrew their ambassadors late last year, it should also initiate the process of returning the envoys.

“Now Cambodia does not need any further discussion with Thailand,” Hor Namhong told reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport before departing Wednesday to attend the 16th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi. “The easy way is that if Thailand sends its ambassador to Cambodia in the morning on a Thai airplane then Cambodia will send its ambassador on the way back.”

The two countries withdrew their ambassadors and first secretaries in the acrimonious diplomatic spat that followed the appointment of fugitive former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as an adviser to the Cambodian government in November.

The comments from the foreign minister come as relations between Thailand and Cambodia appear to be warming. While attending the Mekong River Commission summit in Hua Hin earlier this week, Prime Minister Hun Sen met with Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban and assured him that Thaksin would not be allowed to enter Cambodia while pro-Thaksin Red Shirts are protesting in Bangkok.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Monday that Hun Sen’s remark was a positive sign that Cambodia is willing to restore diplomatic ties between the two countries, Thai media reported. Thai Foreign Ministry officials could not be reached Wednesday.

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