Thaksin back in UK, eyeing US

Fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra arrived in the United Kingdom on Friday night and would stay in that country for about a week, his spokesman said yesterday.

Noppadon Pattama, former foreign minister who also acts as Thaksin's legal adviser, said the fugitive former PM would travel to the UK more often although he would mostly live in the city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

"He will travel more frequently between London and Dubai. He feels comfortable while in England. He has a house in London and the city is a centre of the world's news and information. He is likely to travel more often to England but he will mainly live in Dubai, where people can meet him more conveniently," he said.

Noppadon said Thaksin was also considering travelling to the United States to meet his Thai supporters there.

During the tenure of the previous government led by Thaksin's rivals the Democrat Party, the ex-premier's visa was revoked by the UK and he was denied entry by the American authorities.

Recently, according to Noppadon, Thaksin travelled to Germany, France, Japan and China. The spokesman said Thaksin's recent unhindered travels were proof that those countries recognised the corruption conviction against Thaksin was politically based.

Thaksin is in the UK to watch a football clash between Manchester United and Manchester City, which he once owned. Noppadon did not confirm speculation Thaksin was considering acquiring another team in the English Premier League.

Asked if Thaksin had a plan to travel to the US, Noppadon said there was no clear plan. "But in the future, it is possible. He wants to go to every place that he used to go. After a positive political change, he wants to meet Thai people there," he said.

Meanwhile, opposition Democrat Party spokesman Thepthai Senapong yesterday expressed suspicion at the ruling Pheu Thai Party's repeated denial that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's meeting last Thursday with Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda had any political significance.

Thepthai said that he believed Thaksin, who is the PM's elder brother, was behind her meeting with Prem, supposedly to extend him belated good wishes for Songkran, the traditional Thai New Year. He said Thaksin's camp had tried repeatedly to offer an olive branch to Prem.

The Democrat MP said he believed that during her 35-minute meeting with Prem, the prime minister offered an apology on behalf of Thaksin, who had previously attacked Prem and accused him of being behind the 2006 coup that overthrew his government.

During the Songkran festival, while in Cambodia, Thaksin said he wanted to pay respect to Prem and described the elder statesman as a national figure worthy of respect.

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