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Thaksin in Kingdom for third visit

THAI former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra arrived in Cambodia unexpectedly on Wednesday for his third visit as an economic adviser to the government, a senior official said.

Minister of Information and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Thaksin, whose controversial appointment sparked a diplomatic row with the Thai government, had landed in a private jet at Phnom Penh International Airport.

Thaksin “has arrived. He just landed,” Khieu Kanharith said. “I don’t know about his itinerary yet.”

The fugitive leader’s arrival comes as the Thaksin-aligned Red Shirts assemble in Bangkok for a series of mass antigovernment demonstrations.

In a Wednesday posting on his Web site, Thaksin wrote that he would be flying from Papua New Guinea to Phnom Penh for one night before jetting off to another destination in Asia.

A spokesman for the Red Shirts, Sean Boonpracong, said Wednesday that Thaksin’s latest visit to Cambodia was unimportant compared with the rallies planned in Thailand.

“It’s small potatoes for now – for now the protests are what we do,” he said.

Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy spokesman Thani Thongphakdi declined to comment on the visit when reached on Wednesday. Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanyagorn told the Post on January 13 that Cambodia had every right to host Thaksin for a third time.

“Cambodia is a sovereign country and can do whatever it sees fit,” he said. “Our position is that the complications resolving from the appointment
of Thaksin can be resolved.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP

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