Hun Sen's guards for Thai envoys

  • AseanPlus News
  • Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003

PHNOM PENH: Thailand’s envoys were guarded by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s personal security team when they arrived here yesterday to take up their diplomatic mission after the two countries downgraded bilateral ties due to anti-Thai riots there. 

Kosit Chatpaiboon, minister at the Thai Embassy here, who led the 20-strong delegation of diplomats and officials, left Bangkok yesterday morning on a special Royal Thai Air Force plane. 

Kosit has been appointed head of the Thai diplomatic mission in Cambodia after the two countries reclassified their representatives to the level of charge d’affaires. 

“I am not worried about taking up the mission since the situation has already returned to normal,” he said in Bangkok. 

Nevertheless, Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh told The Nation that the Cambodian premier would dispatch specially-trained guards from his personal unit to protect the Thai envoys.  

“Cambodia will use all means to protect Thai people. We guarantee 100% safety for them,” he said. Bilateral relations turned sour after alleged insults to the Khmers by Thai actress Suvanan Kongying sparked anti-Thai riots on Jan 29, in which the Thai Embassy and businesses were damaged. 

The two countries have been mending fences since last week when Phnom Penh despatched special envoy Hor Nam Hong, the Foreign Minister, to convey an official apology to Thailand and discuss compensation. 

Thailand has demanded 2bil bahts (RM200mil) in compensation for the damage to its embassy and private property.  

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said before departing for Myanmar yesterday that Cambodia had urged Thai private companies to limit their claims to actual damage only, rather than factoring “lost business opportunities” into the compensation. 

Despite the strained relations, Thailand on Saturday partly reopened the border checkpoint at Aranyaprathet on humanitarian grounds, allowing Cambodians to cross and buy necessities. 

Thousands of Cambodians rushed across the border yesterday to buy consumer goods on the Thai side, some 50% more than on Saturday, according to Surin Plairaharn, deputy chief of the Aranyaprathet immigration office. –The Nation/Asia News Network  

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