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Thaksin kicks off US trip with cheers and jeers

Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra kicked off a two-week visit to the United States by dining at Pongsri, a popular Thai restaurant in New York, to which he was escorted by several South Korean bodyguards.

At the restaurant he was welcomed by a group of red-shirt supporters, while his yellow-shirt foes were also on hand to boo him.

Yellow-shirt supporters living in the US plan to hold a rally at the Thai Embassy in Washington today to voice their dissent.

In Bangkok, Green Politics Group coordinator Suriyasai Katasila said the US authorities had shamelessly granted a tourist visa to a fugitive just so they can get Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's support to expand in Southeast Asia.

The US has an extradition treaty and mutual legal assistance agreement with Thailand, and hence there is no excuse for it not to arrest Thaksin, who is fleeing a two-year jail sentence, he said.

Should the United States fail to take Thaksin into custody, it could be translated as the US government having no regard for the Thai judicial system, he said.

Suriyasai added that he had no hopes for the government to initiate an extradition request, adding that he wanted the Supreme Court to take action in protecting the Thai judiciary's integrity, which he said was being tampered with by the US.

He added that he was disappointed that Washington had decided to ignore the cases in which the Thaksin government violated human rights to further its military and energy interests.


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