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PM to attend Asean meeting in Thailand, officials confirm

PM to attend Asean meeting in Thailand, officials confirm

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090112_03.jpg

Despite his statement last week that going to the upcoming Asean summit would be costly and difficult, Hun Sen will be in attendance

Photo by:

HENG CHIVOAN

Hun Sen speaking in Stung Meanchey last week.

PRIME Minister Hun Sen will attend a regional summit in neighbouring Thailand next month despite an earlier statement that he might not, a government spokesman said on Sunday.

Contrary to his statement last week, when the prime minister said it would be costly and difficult for him to attend the Asean meeting, recently moved from the Thai capital to the seaside town of Hua Hin, Hun Sen will participate in the summit, which is scheduled in late February and early March, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said Sunday.

"I would like to confirm that Prime Minister Hun Sen will attend the Asean meeting in Hua Hin, Thailand, from February 27 to 28 and March 1," Hor Namhong told reporters after a meeting with Japan's Foreign Minister Nakasone Hirofumi at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Long delay

The Asean summit was originally scheduled mid-December last year, but political turmoil in Bangkok forced the location to be changed twice and eventually postponed as unrest and security fears in Thailand escalated.

"He [Hun Sen] did not say he would not join, but he had some difficulty. However, after discussions, he feels sure he can go," government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said.

Tension between Cambodia and Thailand has been bubbling since the ancient Hindu temple at Preah Vihear was awarded UN World Heritage status in July last year.

Despite a World Court ruling in 1962 that said the historic temple belonged to Cambodia, the main entrance to the site is in Thailand's northeastern province of Si Sa Ket.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Preah Vihear issues needed to be discussed - including reports Cambodian workers are now building a road leading to the temple - but they would not take place at the forthcoming Asean meeting.

Disputes are bound to occur when countries share a border, Abhisit said, but bilateral problems that could spoil Asean's mutual work will not be brought up.

On Thursday, Hun Sen criticised Bangkok over its plans to host the summit and said he would reconsider his participation when a date was officially set.

He said the new Thai government was keeping other bloc members in the dark, and the meeting should be reconsidered while Bangkok's current political strife continued. 

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