Row over word: Thai minister says sorry to Cambodian PM

April 2nd, 2009 - 5:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Phnom Penh, April 2 (Xinhua) Thailand’s Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya has apologised to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen over misunderstanding caused by a word he used to describe the premier, according to a letter received here Thursday.
The Thai foreign minister had used the word ‘Nak Leng’, which he said meant lion-hearted and courageous but Tuesday the Cambodian premier had lashed out at the minister for calling him a “gangster”.

“Do kindly accept my deep apology for such an unfortunate incident and the unintentional cause of misunderstanding,” said the foreign minister in the letter dated April 1 addressed to the prime minister.

While referring to a parliamentarian’s debate session in Thailand when he used the word to describe the Cambodian premier, Kasit Piromya said: “In the Thai language, the word ‘Nak Leng’ which I used during the debate means a person who is lion-hearted, a courageous and magnanimous gentleman, and this is what I referred to you as an expression of my appreciation of and respect for your excellency.”

On Tuesday, Hun Sen criticised Kasit Piromya, for calling him a “gangster.”

“I am neither a gangster nor a gentleman, but a real man,” the official Agence Kampuchea Presse quoted the prime minister as saying.

Hun Sen asked the Thai foreign minister to correct the comments that he made.

“To correct or not, it is your right. But, I wish that you choose good words because we are neighbours. We need mutual respect,” he added.

According to the prime minister, Kasit Piromya called him a “gangster” because he was angry with the premier for having issued an ultimatum to Thailand to pull its troops out of the Cambodian border area of Veal Intry last October.

Thai troops had clashed with Cambodian troopers in October last year, causing death and casualties on both sides.

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