26 Oct 2009

Chavalit draws govt ire. PM slams Puea Thai chairman's 'tactics'

Puea Thai Party chairman Chavalit Yongchaiyudh has sparked a furious backlash from the government by insisting he will embark on trips to Burma and Malaysia in the wake of his remarks about ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra being welcome "any time" in Cambodia.
The government, which insists Gen Chavalit discredited the Thai administration by his visit with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, has made it clear the opposition party politician should not meddle in diplomatic affairs.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya yesterday asked Gen Chavalit to put the national interest before personal benefits ahead of his plans to visit other countries.
The government had no authority to block his travel plans but it would not succumb to pressure from other countries as a result of his visits, the prime minister said. Gen Chavalit will visit the lower South on Nov 3 followed by unscheduled trips to Malaysia and Burma, his close aide, Lt Gen Piratch Swamiwas, said yesterday.Gen Chavalit's first foreign trip after assuming the chairmanship of the opposition party was to Cambodia last Wednesday. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen told him he welcomed Thaksin to Cambodia.
Hun Sen also said on Friday after coming to Thailand for the Asean summit that the Cambodian government would not hand over Thaksin if Thailand sought his extradition.
Mr Abhisit responded by asking Hun Sen to decide between personal relations and bilateral benefits with Thailand.
Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban met Hun Sen on Saturday to discuss issues involving Thaksin.
Hun Sen promised to stop saying anything that might damage Thailand, Mr Suthep told reporters yesterday in Cha-am district in Phetchaburi.
Mr Kasit also sent a stronger message to Gen Chavalit in his bid to have the Puea Thai chairman reconsider his diplomatic strategy.
"You should ask Gen Chavalit whether his visits to neighbouring countries will benefit Thailand," the foreign minister told reporters. "He should ask himself about what he is doing. Is it serving somebody?"
After the talks on Saturday between Mr Suthep and the Cambodian leader, the Foreign Ministry will submit evidence to Phnom Penh regarding the legal action taken against Thaksin.
It would be "factual" regarding the legal process the government was taking on the ousted prime minister, the foreign minister said.
Mr Kasit said he hoped that after the formal explanation, there would be no conflict between the two countries over Thaksin.
Lt Gen Piratch shrugged off the government's criticism and insisted Gen Chavalit had no plan to scrap his visits to Burma and Malaysia.
"He will meet leaders and will criticise no one," the aide said. "What Gen Chavalit is doing is not for anybody in particular. He used to give suggestions to the government but the government never listened to him."
Gen Chavalit said last week he would use his personal connections with leaders of neighbouring countries to clear their misunderstandings about Thailand.
He claimed the foreign policy under the Democrat-led government had caused strains.
The Cambodian prime minister's remark favouring Thaksin continued to upset a group of 40 senators who urged the government take a tougher diplomatic line on Cambodia.

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