Friday, November 27, 2009

Family visits accused spy in Cambodia

Source: Bangkok Post

The mother and brother of the Thai engineer arrested in Cambodia on spying charges, Sivarak Chutipong, flew to Cambodia on Friday morning to visit him in jail.

Simarak Na Nakhon Phanom said before leaving she was so excited at the prospect of seeing her son that she had not been able to sleep properly the last few nights. She would tell him to be patient because he would be soon be freed.

Mr Sivarak is being detained at Prey Sar prison in Phnom Penh. Mr Sivarak's younger brother, Phongsuree, accompanied his mother on the visit.
They were scheduled to meet him about 2pm.

Mr Sivarak, an employee of Cambodia Air Traffic Service, a Thai company, was arrested on charges of supplying state secrets - details of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra's flight schedule - to the Thai embassy when Thaksin visited Phnom Penh earlier this month.

Deputy director-general of the Consul Department Mathurapojjana Ittharong said the family had been allowed a 30 minute visit starting at 2pm. They would leave Phnom Penh for Bangkok around 10pm.

Mr Sivarak has applied for release on bail. The Cambodian court is expected to announce its decision on Dec 8.

The defence ministers of both Thailand and Cambodia on Friday agreed not to let the diplomatic row between the two countries sparked by the appointment of Thaksin as a political adviser to the government and personal adviser to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen lead to the deepening of the border conflict.

"Thai and Cambodian armed forces will support every mechanism between the two countries to improve ties," Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon told reporters after a meeting of the Thai-Cambodia General Border Committee in Pattaya.

"The highest goal will be the safety of the public and sustainable peace at the border," he said, adding that troops from the two sides have a "peaceful relationship".

Cambodian Defence Minister Gen Tea Banh told the press conference that Cambodia would not do anything that would affect the lives of the people of the two countries.

"We will avoid any action that would lead to a conflict between the two countries," he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban brushed aside former foreign minister Surakiart Sathirathai's call for the government to initiate talks with Cambodia to normalise diplomatic relations.

Mr Surakiart made the suggestion during a seminar on Thai-Cambodian relations at Chulalongkorn University on Thursday. He also said the Thai-Cambodian conflict should be raised for discussion in the Asean forum.

Mr Suthep said the conflict was between two counries and it should not be made a problem for Asean.

"It is not that we fear it would be a loss of face. It is a difference of thinking. Mr Surakiart may have his own thoughts on the matter, but the government thinks a problem between two countries should not be taken to Asean or a higher level," Mr Suthep said.

It would take some time before the two countries could reach a good understanding. As long as the core cause of the conflict remains unchanged it would be difficult to hold talks, he said.

He also said the conflict between the two countries was limited to a diplomatic disagreement, while military relations remained intact. Soldiers of the two countries had been in good communication to prevent tensions along the border, he added.

"We neighbours may have a quarrel, but that should not be allowed to develop to fighting. We have to maintain peace," Mr Suthep said.

Mr Suthep, who is in charge of security affairs, said the Thai-Cambodian border committee meetings would proceed as normal and there would not be a border closure because it would affect the lives of people living along both sides of the border.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said dispute between Thailand and Phnom Penh will continue to exist as long as Thaksin is Cambodia's economic adviser.

Mr Kasit was responding to questions about the diplomatic row could be settled.

"Thaksin is the problem," he said.

He insisted that the Foreign Ministry would not initiate talks with Cambodia, as former foreign minister Surahiart Sthirathai has suggested, or ask it to strip Thaksin of his advisory posts.

"What should be done has been done," Mr Kasit said.

As a Thai citizen, Mr Surakiart was entitled to voice his opinion, and the government welcomed suggestions, he said.

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