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Cambodia Not Harboring Thaksin: Official

Cambodia will not jeopardize its relationship with Thailand by secretly housing the former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, a foreign ministry spokesman said Wednesday.

Theptai Senapong, a spokesman for Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, said on Saturday he believed Thaksin was staying near the home of Prime Minister Hun Sen on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, and on Tuesday Thailand’s foreign minister, Kasit Piromya, said ties between the two countries could be strained if the reports are true.

However, Cambodia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Kuy Kuong, denied Thaksin was in the country.

“Cambodia wishes to have a good relationship with its neighbors, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam,” he said. “There is no Thaksin in Cambodia. So bilateral ties between Cambodia and Thailand will not be affected.”

Thaksin, who is popular with rural Thais and enjoyed close ties with Hun Sen during his tenure as prime minister, has been found guilty of corruption by a Thai court and is living in exile.

Thailand’s ruling government is coming under pressure from demonstrators loyal to Thaksin to step down and allow elections, the latest round in a series of political turbulence.

“If the government allows Thaksin to come into Cambodia, the Cambodian government will declare publicly his entrance, without secrecy,” Kuy Kuong said.