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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ties set to be restored

Ties set to be restored


Cambodian government officials said they expected to reach a deal with Thailand on

April 11 to fully normalize relations between the two countries.

The Thai Embassy on January 30, the day after it was ransacked and set ablaze. Govt sources said ties would likely resume April 11.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hor Namhong, and his Thai counterpart, Surakiart

Sathirathai, are scheduled to meet on the sidelines of an ASEAN meeting in Siem Reap

to discuss full normalization of ties.

"For work tomorrow, there is a bilateral meeting between Hor Namhong and Surakiart

Sathirathai to discuss the important topic of reappointing each other's ambassadors,"

said Senior Minister Sok An.

He said he expected full normalization would result.

"We hope that both will reach an agreement because we talked about it last time

in Aranyaprathet [in Thailand on March 21]," Sok An said.

A senior Cambodian government official, who asked not to be named, said at the meeting

the ministers would agree to fully upgrade their relations.

"I think diplomatic relations will be upgraded to normal levels," he said.

"The Thai side will send their ambassador back to Cambodia."

That would represent a rapid turnaround. Thai Ambassador Chatchawed Chartsuwan was

forced to flee over the back wall of his embassy shortly before it was razed.

He later spoke of his conviction that the January 29 violence was organized, not

spontaneous, and accused the Cambodian authorities of being slow to help.

The Thai Charges d'Affairs, Kosit Chatpaiboon, said from Siem Reap he hoped a deal

would be reached but would not confirm whether it was expected.

"We have to wait until tomorrow," he told the Post on April 10. "Tomorrow

we will be able to tell."

Relations have improved rapidly since Cambodia dished out nearly $6 million in compensation

for the embassy and submitted a payment agreement for the gutted Royal Phnom Penh

Hotel. Sok An and Surakiart then met in Poipet and agreed their citizens could resume

land crossings between the two nations.

"As a result, both sides think it's the right time to normalize relations to

the level they were before the incidents of the 29th of January," said Prak

Sokhun, chairman of the commission to compensate damages to the Thai Embassy. "I

think the first step will be to send the same ambassadors back to each country."

After the riots, the Thai government demanded full compensation for damages as well

as an explanation for the events and prosecution of wrongdoers.

General You Sun Long, head of the commission to investigate the events, said he did

not have time to comment on his progress.

But the senior government official told the Post that more Thai companies - the next

could be Samart Telecommunications - would receive money after Khmer New Year. He

was also quick to caution that by paying out to the private sector, the government

in no way admitted culpability over the anti-Thai riots.

"It's not compensation, it's just a contribution. It's quite different from

compensation to the Thai Embassy [which under international law should have been

protected]," he said. "This payment is not an admission of responsibility

of liability of the government of Cambodia. It's voluntary from our government to

Thai private companies."



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