Thailand Cambodia relationship deteriorates as Cambodia makes Thaksin Shinawatra senior adviser to Hun Sen government; US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs meets Suu Kyi;
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  • The bilateral relationship between Thailand and Cambodia deteriorated further with the Cambodian government’s appointment of fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as economic adviser to Cambodian premier Hun Sen. Tensions between both the countries had also risen in June 2008 over a land dispute at a 11th century temple near the border. Cambodia had also offered a safe haven to Thaksin who was ousted in a coup in 2006.1 Reports meanwhile noted that Thaksin had agreed to accept the position offered by the Hun Sen administration.2

    Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya meanwhile expressed his intention to propose the revocation of the MoU signed between Thailand and Cambodia in 2001 on resolving maritime boundary issues in the Gulf of Thailand.3 Cambodian PM Hun Sen on his part hoped that peace between the two countries could be maintained.4

    In domestic developments in Thailand, efforts towards amending the constitution faced yet another stumbling block as the Senate Committee for the study of the 2007 Constitution decided to withdraw from the charter amendment process.5

    US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell held talks with Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on November 4 and hoped that a new era of engagement with the military authorities in Burma will begin. Campbell’s visit was the first by a senior US official during the last 15 years.6 He was accompanied by US Ambassador for ASEAN Affairs, Scot Marcel. Marcel noted that the visit was part of the Obama administration’s policy of ‘pragmatic engagement.’ US officials however made it clear that Washington was yet not ready to lift sanctions until the authorities made concrete progress toward democratization.7

    US Department of State Special Advisor for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Robert J. Einhorn, on a visit to Kuala Lumpur, sought Malaysia’s help in dealing with Iran, with which it has a friendly relationship. Pointing out the country’s influence within the Organization of the Islamic Conference, ASEAN and the NAM, Einhorn stated that the US saw Malaysia as a significant partner in dealing with nonproliferation and disarmament issues.8

    South Korea put forward a proposal to sell to the Malaysian Armed Forces its Next Infantry Fight Vehicle K21 and Black Fox armored vehicle. These vehicles have several state-of-the-art features.9