Cambodia denies Thai claim about assassination training
By Puy Kea
HANOI, Oct. 12, Kyodo - The Cambodian government denied Tuesday it trained any Thai civilians to take part in assassinations in Thailand.
Tea Banh, deputy prime minister and minister of National Defense told Kyodo News in Hanoi, ''There is no such nonsense, training in Cambodia. Why would Cambodia have done that, for what?''
''It is not a new thing, but a repeated claim on this and that (from Thailand),'' Tea Banh added.
He is in Vietnam for the first meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' defense ministers and their dialogue partners from Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia and the United States.
Thailand claimed Monday, and repeated the charge Tuesday, that 11 men arrested Oct. 2 in Chiang Mai Province received training in firearms in Cambodia.
Police Lt. Col. Payao Thongsen, chief of the Department of Special Investigation, said 39 Thai men were trained in firearms use in Cambodia, allegedly for a mission to assassinate key Thai public figures, including the prime minister.
Payao claimed the 11 suspects confessed they were among the 39 who were recruited and taken by antigovernment leaders to Cambodia, without passing immigration, for three weeks of firearms training at a Cambodian army camp in Siem Reap Province.
The Thai opposition charges Payao's department is simply a political tool of the current government.
But the claim over alleged training in Cambodia is yet another thorn in relations between Phnom Penh and Bangkok.
Cambodia and Thailand have had sporadic border firefights since Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple was listed as a World heritage in 2008 and Cambodian and Thai troops continue to face off in the area.
And relations between the countries plunged when ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was appointed a Cambodian government economic adviser and personal adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen in November last year.
Thailand recalled its ambassador and Cambodia followed suit.
Relations only began to thaw after Thaksin resigned from the two posts in August this year and the ambassadors once again took up their posts in Phnom Penh and Bangkok.