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Hor Namhong petitions ASEAN

FOREIGN Minister Hor Namhong has proposed that a special summit be convened under the auspices of the Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN) in order to bring a peaceful resolution to the explosive political situation in Thailand, as ASEAN leaders wound up their annual summit in Hanoi on Friday.

In a letter to his Vietnamese counterpart Pham Gia Khiem dated Saturday, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said special action should be taken in order to find a way of defusing violent street protests that killed 19 people and injured over 800 as of Saturday.

“In light of this very grave development which no one knows when it will end whether it will lead to more bloodshed, I think that we, as fellow ASEAN member states cannot stand idle and leave ASEAN[’s] image at stake any further,” Hor Namhong wrote in the letter.

“Therefore, I would like to propose that Vietnam, as Chair of ASEAN, should issue a Declaration on the situation in Thailand, or convene an urgent special ASEAN Summit in order to help looking for an appropriate ways to defuse an extremely explosive situation in our friendly Thailand,” he added.

The proposal came amid Thailand’s worst political violence in decades, which erupted when antigovernment Red Shirts clashed with riot police in the capital Bangkok.

Koy Kuong, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that he has not yet received any reply from other members of the 10-member bloc about the Cambodian proposal as of Sunday.

Speaking to the Post on the sidelines of ASEAN talks in Hanoi on Thursday, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya denied that the issue had been brought up during meetings. “You keep on asking the same question – no,” he said.

Following his return from the ASEAN summit in Hanoi, Hor Namhong also moved to damp down suspicions that Cambodia would seek to profit from Thailand’s internal turmoil.

Despite the country’s controversial appointment of fugitive former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as a government advisor last year, he said, Cambodia will not interfere in Thailand’s internal affairs. He said that a recent decision to bar Thaksin from entering Cambodia during the Red Shirt protests was intended to prevent a misinterpretation of the relationship between Hun Sen and Thaksin.

“Recently, Thaksin has requested to visit Cambodia, but was denied by Prime Minister Hun Sen because of the mass demonstrations in Thailand and because [he wanted] to avoid a wrong interpretation,” he told reporters at Phnom Penh International airport after returning to Cambodia on Friday.

He also denied allegations – raised by Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya on the sidelines of the ASEAN talks – that Cambodia has allowed Red Shirt protesters access to satellite broadcasts after the Thai government cut off their access to broadcasts within in the country.

“How can we provide satellites for the Red Shirts while Cambodia does not have them? It is not true and is just a word of accusation from Thailand to Cambodia,” he said.

He added that currently, Cambodia has access only to broadcast satellites owned by Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. “Please control your internal affairs,” he said.

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