Thai PM visits Cambodia to strengthen bilateral cooperation


BANGKOK, Sept 15 — Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will leave Bangkok for the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh on an official one day introductory visit after assuming her post last month and to strengthen bilateral ties and cooperation with Cambodia.

Ms Yingluck was scheduled to depart Bangkok from Don Mueang Royal Thai Air Force Base, Wing 6 at 2pm, with a welcoming ceremony to be held at Peace Palace in Phnom Penh.

The Thai premier and her Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen will then hold bilateral talks before proceeding to Khemarin Palace for an audience with HM King Norodom Sihamoni.

Prime Minister Hun Sen will host a dinner to honour Ms Yingluck at Cambodia’s Government House before the Thai prime minister returns to Thailand and expected to arrive at 9.20pm.

Thai Government spokeswoman Thitima Chaisaeng earlier said that the prime minister’s visit to Cambodia was an important milestone as it was considered the beginning of a new chapter for Thai-Cambodian relations.

It also showed that the bilateral ties between the two neighbouring countries are heading into bright prospects, she said.

The two leaders were expected to hold talks on the relations and cooperation between Thailand and Cambodia, measures to promote trade and investment, the opening of permanent border check points, tourism promotion, technical assistance and scholarships for Cambodian students, Ms Thitima said.

The talks will include seeking to help free two Thai Patriots Network (TPN) activists jailed in a Cambodian prison on espionage charges.

Ms Thitima said the government has policy to help and take care of Thais who face difficulties abroad.

A rumour spread recently that Cambodia would release the two and let them accompany Ms Yingluck on her return to Thailand, the spokesperson said, but the Thai Foreign Ministry confirmed that until now both activists were still detained in prison.

A Cambodian court on Feb 1 ruled that Veera Somkwamkid, a key network activist and his secretary, Ratree Pipattanapaiboon, were guilty of espionage, illegal entry, and trespassing in a military zone. Mr Veera was sentenced to an eight-year jail term and a 1.8 million riel (US$450) fine while Ms Ratree was given a six-year jail term and a 1.2 million riel ($300) fine.

Ms Yingluck had launched her introducory visit at Brunei last week and visited Indonesia on Monday and was scheduled to visit Lao on Friday.