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Cambodian military visits Thai junta

Cambodia supports the Thai junta's campaign to confront head-on the country's myriad problems "on the path to full democracy", the head of a visiting military mission said yesterday.

Deputy Prime Minister General Tea Banh, who is also Cambodia's defence minister and led the delegation of senior commanders, said Thailand under the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) was addressing the country's problems in a clear manner and with the aim of restoring peace and order.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has a good understanding of the Thai political situation, particularly the NCPO's attempts to solve various problems, Tea Banh said.

The visiting Cambodians said they hoped the two countries would still be good neighbours.

The Thai Defence Ministry's guests included the chiefs of Cambodia's three military branches as well as Lt-General Hun Manet, the eldest son of Hun Sen.

They were welcomed at the Defence Ministry in the afternoon by permanent secretary General Surasak Karnjanarat, who also acts as defence minister.

Hun Manet is viewed as Hun Sen's political heir. Like his father, he has retained good relations with the Shinawatra clan, which has produced two prime ministers whose administrations were crushed by military coups.

Tea Banh and his entourage later called on Armed Forces Supreme Commander General Thanasak Pratimaprakorn at the Thai Armed Forces Command.

They are expected to meet NCPO director General Prayuth Chan-ocha this afternoon to discuss improving ties and military cooperation. The Cambodian delegation is to leave Thailand later in the day.

Cambodia has promised not to support or harbour any group opposing Thailand's military regime, which has been in power since the May 22 coup.

Shortly after the power seizure, Cambodia agreed to release Thai nationalist Veera Somkwamkid, whom it jailed in 2010 for espionage.

Tea Banh's presence on his first official visit since the coup is considered significant and indicative of the improvement in diplomatic ties, which had been strained in recent years from several clashes over a border dispute.

Thailand and Cambodia fell out over the interpretation of the World Court's 1963 ruling on the surroundings of Preah Vihear Temple. Cambodia took the dispute to the International Court of Justice during Abhisit Vejjajiva's premiership.


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