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Hun Sen talks up better relations

Hun Sen: Ties like tongue and teeth

Thailand and Cambodia celebrated 60 years of diplomatic relations on
Monday. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen took the occasion to speak to
ANUCHA CHAROENPO about ways the relations between the two countries
could be improved.

Hun Sen compared the ties to “tongue and teeth”, which sometimes get
in each other’s way but can never be separated, just as neighbouring
countries cannot move away from each other.
How would you like to see relations between the two countries move on after the 60th anniversary celebration?
Relations have improved after Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and I
met four times over the past year and carried out bilateral efforts to
solve the disputes between our two countries.
We agreed that each other’s soldiers will have to do their bit to avoid confrontations.
There are several factors involved in improving relations. But what
I want to see most next year is the strengthening of cooperation
between the two countries at all levels, whether that means the
military, the public or local officials.
As for the appointment of [former Thai prime minister] Thaksin
[Shinawatra] as my economic adviser, I think that matter is in the past
and the relations between the two countries are now improving.
On behalf of the Cambodian government, I will work closely with the
Abhisit government. As for Thaksin, I can confirm he is still my friend.
How do you think the two countries can cooperate better?
We both must always remember that small problems can turn into huge
problems, so we must learn how to solve small problems before they
escalate.
Thailand and Cambodia share a border of about 800 kilometres, much
of which has not been demarcated. We will have to seek ways to prevent
border conflicts becoming a bigger problem.
Representatives from the two countries will meet again at the Unesco
committee on world heritage in Bahrain next year to discuss a
management plan for the Preah Vihear temple.
What would you like to see resolved before this meeting?
I have already discussed the matter with Prime Minister Abhisit and
told my deputy prime minister, Sok An, to prepare well for talks with
[Natural Resources and Environment Minister] Suwit [Khunkitti]. I don’t
want to see the two countries quarrelling with one another at the
Unesco meeting. The best and simplest way is for us to discuss it first.
Many Thai people think you have a straightforward
personality because they have often seen you reacting to the Cambodian
media in a forthright manner, especially when it comes to issues
regarding Thai-Cambodian relations. What type of person are you really?
This is my natural personality. I speak directly. I don’t like hiding anything or using diplomatic language.
I was foreign minister when I was just 27 years old. I have been
administering the country for 32 years. I have never used diplomatic
language. If I have something on my mind, I won’t keep it to myself.
Rather, I will speak out immediately and honestly.
My subordinates know me, know what type of person I am. Those whom I
no longer want to talk to would eventually be dismissed from their
positions.
Also, I am not the kind of person to attack anyone first. But if I am attacked, I’ll get my revenge on them three-fold.
I want to have a happy life. I don’t want anyone to cause trouble in my life.
What is your message to the Thai people about Thai-Cambodian relations?
Thailand and Cambodia have long been good neighbours. I promise to
help improve relations between the two countries and I thank the Thai
people for their support of the Cambodian people.
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