Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cambodia cancels road loan; PM Abhisit calls it a misunderstanding


BANGKOK, Nov 28 (TNA) -- Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Saturday that the Cambodian government misunderstood the Thai government might not extend a Bt1.4 billion loan to finance upgrading a road between the Thai border province of Surin and the Cambodian border province of Siem Reap and had decided to preemptively cancel the loan.

Mr Abhisit told journalists that the decision by the Cambodian government to cancel the loan, approved by his government in August to be used to upgrade the road from Surin to Siem Reap, resulted from a misunderstanding as Cambodia thought that Thailand would terminate the project and informed Bangkok that it had decided to cancel the loan.

There wouldn’t be a problem if both sides have a chance to talk with each other, he said. So far the Thai cabinet has not decided to alter the plan to extend the loan and if talks are held, the problem could be solved.

According to the Associated Press (AP), Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said in Phnom Penh Friday that his country did not need the loan and could afford to build the road on its own.

Diplomatic relations between the two neighbouring countries have turned sour after Phnom Penh appointed ousted, fugitive former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra economic advisor to the government, followed by a visit by Mr Thaksin and Cambodia’s rejection of a formal request by Thailand to extradite him.

Each country has also recalled their ambassadors while the Cambodian government is detaining Siwarak Chutipong, an employee of Cambodia Air Traffic Services (CATS), charging him with espionage in acquiring secret information considered to affect Cambodia's national security by releasing Mr. Thaksin’s flight schedule to a Thai embassy official in Phnom Penh.

Mr Siwarak’s mother was able to visit her detained son at a prison in Phnom Penh for the first time on Friday and plans to travel to Cambodia again on December 7 to raise his morale when he appears at a court for the first hearing which is due to start December 8.

His Cambodian lawyer Kao Soupha filed a bail request last Monday but the court has not yet acted on the request. Mr Siwarak has been imprisoned since November 12. (TNA)

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