Country Report Cambodia February 2010

Outlook for 2010-11: International relations

Relations with Thailand will remain strained. The controversial appointment in late October of a former Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, as an economic adviser to Hun Sen's government incensed the Thai authorities. Thaksin, who was deposed in a coup in 2006, has lived in self-imposed exile since August 2008 but is widely suspected of wanting to return to Thailand. The appointment came amid a dispute over the territory surrounding the Preah Vihear temple, which is situated on the Cambodian-Thai border. Although ownership of the temple was settled in Cambodia's favour in 1962 by the International Court of Justice, the countries continue to argue over control of the surrounding land. At least three Cambodian and three Thai soldiers have been killed in crossborder gunfire since tensions flared in October 2008, and there is a high risk of further clashes. Demarcating the land border will prove problematic, and the two countries also have to resolve the disputed sovereignty of resource-rich maritime areas in the Gulf of Thailand.

Diplomatic relations with Vietnam will be close as long as Hun Sen remains in power. However, the prime minister's strong ties with Vietnam's ruling Communist Party will continue to be controversial among those in Cambodia who still resent Vietnam's occupation of their country from 1978 to 1990. Relations between the Cambodian government and its Western counterparts will be frosty owing to disagreements over human rights. However, the country will still receive pledges of aid from foreign donors. China will remain generous, and has not called for improvements in governance or greater respect for human rights.

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