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Asean Official Regrets Rocket ‘Misunderstanding’

A senior Thai Asean official has expressed regret for commenting on a rocket-launch exercise undertaken by Cambodia last week, following a sharp rebuke from Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Asean Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan issued a statement late Tuesday expressing “deep regret that the issue has caused much misunderstanding and discomfort” and had “a very unfortunate and unwarranted effect.”

Surin was criticized for reports claiming he had said the test-launch of some 200 rockets from Cambodian trucks last week could give an impression of regional instability. Surin said Tuesday he had been misquoted.

Cambodia and Thailand are locked in a military standoff at the border near Preah Vihear temple and in a diplomatic row over the appointment of ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic adviser to Hun Sen.

Hun Sen said in a public speech Tuesday the exercise was no business of Asean, and Cambodia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a sharp rebuke of the remarks, reported by the Bernama news agency.

Officials from the Foreign Affairs Ministry declined to comment Tuesday, saying they had not yet seen Surin’s statement.